Principal Investigator and research clinician at the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) Dr Sharana Mahomed graduated with a PhD in Public Health.
Supervised by Professor Salim S Abdool Karim, Mahomed’s study assessed the safety and pharmacokinetics of three broadly neutralising monoclonal antibodies: VRC07-523LS, PGT121 and CAP256V2LS in young women in Africa, towards an HIV prevention technology.
‘The CAPRISA 012 trials demonstrated safety and tolerability of the three monoclonal antibodies evaluated,’ she said. ‘We have now proceeded to a two-antibody combination of CAP256V2LS and VRC07-523LS in a larger phase 2 trial that will test extended safety in young South African and Zambian women.’
She added that these studies are pivotal in the planning and undertaking of larger phase 2b/3 HIV prevention studies.
‘This degree is a prize for the hard work that went into achieving it. I feel proud, happy, overwhelmed, and delighted. I hope that my current and future research endeavours will impact the lives of South Africans and globally,’ said an elated Mahomed.
‘Africa accounts for 70% of global HIV infections and young women continue to carry the highest burden of disease. Without an effective HIV vaccine, alternative effective prevention technologies are needed, particularly for young women,’ she noted.
Mahomed said she had a good study experience at UKZN. ‘I received support and assistance at all times. The value of an incredible supervisor and mentor cannot be stressed enough. Together with support and encouragement from my loved ones and colleagues, this made the goal achievable.’
Mahomed grew up in Pietermaritzburg in a small, close-knit community with loving, supportive parents. She studied Medicine at the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine and specialised in pathology in the field of microbiology. Research has always been her passion.
She loves writing novels and screenplays.
Words: Nombuso Dlamini
Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan