Ensuring the development of HIV vaccines that will meet the needs of people who live in countries most affected by the AIDS pandemic is integral to IAVI’s mission. Such vaccine candidates must be tested where they will ultimately be used. To make that possible, IAVI has worked with in-country partners to build a network of clinical research centers and laboratories in sub-Saharan Africa that is dedicated to conducting AIDS vaccine trials and related epidemiological studies that examine the characteristics and dynamics of HIV infection in local populations.
IAVI recognized early on the benefits of working collaboratively to establish clinical research centers in developing countries—specifically, the opportunity to help build something of lasting value in the communities and countries that participate in vaccine research. Today, staffed with local scientists and clinicians and led largely by African HIV experts, these facilities are regional centers of excellence in HIV prevention research and are now leveraging IAVI-supported infrastructure to solicit funding for research related to a variety of other diseases.
Beyond equipping clinics and laboratories in the research network, IAVI also has overseen the training of research center staff to ensure that they conduct their work in accordance with the highest of scientific and ethical standards—and with the meticulous care required by regulators who approve new vaccines.
More than 1,000 clinicians, nurses and counselors involved in clinical trials have received training in Good Clinical Practices (GCP). In addition, laboratory scientists and technicians have been trained to enable the accreditation of their labs under the stringent Good Clinical Laboratory Practices (GCLP) scheme, which is based on the legal requirements in Europe and South Africa for collecting and analyzing clinical trial data. More than 1,000 individuals in South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia and India have benefitted from basic GCLP training through IAVI’s program, and at least 10 GCLP-accredited laboratories in Africa have supported IAVI-sponsored studies. Further, thanks to their efforts, some of the research centers in the network are now themselves providing GCLP and GCP training to other research centers across the region and supporting trials conducted by other organizations.
Training and other activities are coordinated by two core labs: IAVI’s Human Immunology Laboratory, based in London, and by Contract Laboratory Services in Johannesburg. The HIL and CLS teams closely monitor the integrity of data generated in the network labs, to make sure that they maintain the high standards required in clinical trials.