Scientific Retreat 2013

The HPP recently hosted its 3rd biennial Scientific Retreat from the 10th – 13th of June 2013 at the Mondazur Hotel at San Lameer, which is situated along the beautiful KwaZulu Natal South Coast, South Africa.


The retreat, which was attended by guests from HPP, CAPRISA, K-RITH, the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT & Harvard, the University of Oxford, the University of Minnesota Medical School, and the Malawi-Liverpool-Welcome Trust Clinical Research Programme, among others, provided a unique opportunity to increase the capacity for cutting-edge HIV research in Africa and to help HPP build upon the successes it has achieved so far. The retreat aimed to further enhance research productivity and expand research capacity at the HPP and the Doris Duke Medical Research Institute, in the following ways:


- to enable students and scientists to receive independent critique and input into their on-going research projects.

- to provide feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of the HPP programme as currently constituted.

- to assist in the development of the strategic vision of the HPP programme.

- to identify new opportunities for international collaborations and the development of new technologies at HPP.


The retreat programme kicked off with an opening session, which included welcoming remarks, an overview of the meeting objectives and a keynote address by invited speaker Dr. Louis Picker - Professor of Pathology/ Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine and head of the Division of Pathobiology and Immunology.


The rest of the programme was divided into five sessions, and included several oral presentations which focused on (1) The role of cohorts in HIV vaccine immunology research, (2) HIV innate immune responses and host restriction factors, (3) Humoral immunity and mucosal immunity, (4) Protective cellular immune responses in HIV infection, and (5) Viral fitness and compartmentalization.


Other activities included an interactive poster presentation session, student-investigator working groups and the HPP ‘Science Challenge’ presentations, whereby three groups, comprised of HPP staff and students, competed against one another for the most creative conceptual approach towards an HIV cure, vaccine or improved therapy. The prize was awarded to Akeem and his team for their innovative idea of applying bio-computers with molecular transistors in HIV/AIDS therapy. On the final day of the retreat, guests also took part in a GLADI-ANTICS teambuilding challenge, which consisted of various fun-filled activities, including slip ‘n slides, sack races, and many more.


Finally, the closing session, which took the form of a banquet, included speeches from two HPP study participants who shared their experiences of being a part of a study cohort, as well as an evaluation of the HPP programme by Dr. Lynn Morris (Head of the HIV virology section within the Centre of HIV & STI’s at the National Institute for Communicable Disease; Research Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand) and Dr. Daniel Kaufmann (Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Montreal; Visiting Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School).


We would like to sincerely thank all the guests who took time off their busy schedules to join us in assessing and evaluating the HPP programme, and helping us to plan for the future. We trust that a good time was had by all. Your expertise and experience did indeed help us to emerge from the retreat with a renewed sense of purpose, commitment and dedication, as we embark on a fresh chapter in the fight again HIV/AIDS and TB.


  1. Xu Yu and Akeem
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  2. Winners of the Science Challenge
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  3. Vanessa and Mark Brockman
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  4. Thulani, Zoe and Katlego
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  5. The Organising Committee
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  6. The conference room
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  7. Socialising
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  8. Sannie and Bongiwe
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  9. San Lameer
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  10. San Lameer (2)
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