Global WACh

May 3, 2021

Research Assistant Jill Neary receives a National Institute of Health predoctoral fellowship to support pediatric HIV research training

Congratulations to Jill Neary, Global WACh trainee and PhD student in the Department of Epidemiology, for receiving a National Institute of Health’s (NIH) F31 predoctoral training fellowship to support her dissertation research on pediatric HIV. The three-year award will provide funding support to learn new analysis methods and content-area expertise in molecular epidemiology, neuropsychological assessments, and longitudinal data analysis.

Jill’s dissertation, “Trajectories, predictors, and impact on neurocognition of viral control among children living with HIV in Kenya,” will address current gaps in existing literature by determining predictors of high HIV DNA levels, high viral reservoir, and virologic failure among this vulnerable population. Early initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) and lifelong adherence is crucial to stay healthy, maintain low viral load, and reduce transmission into adolescence and adulthood. However, some children face challenges with dosing, adherence, and drug resistance on an anatomical level.

Leveraging data from an ongoing NIH R01 pediatric HIV study, Jill’s research will characterize how fast a child’s body controls the reproduction of HIV virus (HIV virologic suppression) and how much HIV lives silently within children’s cells even while they are on treatment (HIV reservoir). The findings will improve early treatment strategies and potentially contribute to cure strategies.

Jill will work under the close mentorship of Dr. Grace John-Stewart, Global WACh’s Co-Director, and Global Health faculty Drs. Barbra Richardson, Jennifer Slyker, Irene Njuguna, Dara Lehman, and Sarah Benki-Nugent. Other dissertation committee members include Drs. Stephen Hawes (Epidemiology), Anjuli Wagner (Global Health), and Susanne May (Biostatistics).