Phyllis Kanki, DSc, DVM

Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases
Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Phyllis Kanki, DVM, DSc has been a professor of Immunology and Infectious Disease at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health since 1999. Her research centers on the virology, pathogenesis and molecular epidemiology of HIV in Africa. Based on long term research collaborations in Senegal for over 24 years, her work provided the initial characterization of HIV-2, demonstrated reduced virulence, transmission and progression to disease and interactions with HIV-1 subtypes from West Africa.

In 2000, Dr. Kanki created and directed the AIDS Prevention Initiative in Nigeria (APIN), with a $25 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This provided the collaborative foundation for the Harvard President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) providing prevention, care and HIV antiretroviral therapy in Nigeria, Botswana, and Tanzania (2004-2012). To date, in addition to the capacity building for clinical, laboratory and research capabilities, the program has provided treatment for over 150,000 AIDS patients. The PEPFAR program in Nigeria has developed an extensive electronic medical record system that provides real time access to >90,000 patients on antiretroviral treatment. These databases allow us to promote better clinical care and also to answer operational research questions dealing with the efficacy of ART and prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) interventions and modulators of this response. Her operational research deals with HIV diversity and drug resistance, ART adherence and HIV co-infections including tuberculosis and hepatitis infections. Training has been a critical goal of the program and topics have included clinical ART for adults and children, principles of research ethics, laboratory methods, pharmacy, data management and analysis. These training sessions, workshops and conferences have been given to over 6,000 health care providers in our program in Nigeria alone. The program has also built the capacity of over 22 laboratories in Nigerian teaching hospitals and research institutes to provide state of the art HIV diagnosis and monitoring. The University of Ibadan, Nigeria received a Medical Education Partnership award from the Fogarty International Center in 2010, and Dr. Kanki leads the Harvard component of this consortium effort to promote research capacity at partner medical schools.