The Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP) Laboratory Director, Dr Sikhulile Moyo has been accorded a Martin Luther King Honoree International Humanitarian Service Award at the 32nd Annual Rev. Dr Martin Luther King, Jr Celebration hosted by Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Rev Jesse L. Jackson.

Dr Moyo, a medical virologist, is Laboratory director for the Botswana Harvard HIV Reference Laboratory – a collaboration between the Ministry of Health & Wellness and BHP. He is Research Associate with the Harvard T.H. Chan School for Public Health (HSPH) and Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the University of Botswana.

He is currently a member of the presidential task team for COVID-19 as a co-chief scientist. As part of this team Moyo established a Genomic Surveillance Centre and was the first to sequence the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in November 2021, and thus the first to sound the alarm to the world.

“This award was a great honour and motivation to a team of African scientists in our country and southern Africa, of whom I am privileged to represent,” he said. “It reminds us that we should pursue the dream of global public health with vigour and tenacity despite the limited resources in our part of the world. I know Martin Luther King Jr’s famous speech ‘I have a dream…’ very well, and to me it means looking forward to great science, collaboration and global health with courage, enthusiasm, hope, faith, and most of all, reducing health inequalities.”

Over the past 18 years Moyo has contributed to several BHP and HSPH studies as an investigator, Principal Investigator (PI) or Co-PI. He oversees the design and implementation of laboratory components of clinical trials, observational and surveillance studies, and mentors junior researchers. He has served as Co-Chair and Co-Vice Chair of the Laboratory Technologist Committee of the US National Institutes of Health Supported AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) and International Maternal Paediatric & Adolescent Clinical Trials (IMPAACT). He was previously awarded the McGoldrick Fellowship in Biostatistics (HSPH); US NIH Fogarty Global Health Post-Doctoral Fellowship (HSPH and BHP); and Post-Doctoral Fellowship (SANTHE and BHP). 

Dr Moyo is a member of the steering committee of the PANGEA-HIV network (Phylogenetics And Networks for Generalised Epidemics in Africa) – a collaboration between scientists from the Africa Health Research Institute in South Africa; Rakai Health Sciences Program, and Medical Research Council/Uganda Virus Research Institute in Uganda; Johns Hopkins University, and Partners in Prevention Project at the University of Washington in USA;  Zambart Project  in Zambia; London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Imperial College London, University of Edinburgh, and University of Oxford in UK; Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership in Botswana. He also participates in local and international working groups such as HIV drug resistance, Estimates and Projections, WHO Guidelines Development and is a subject matter expert for the African Society of Laboratory Medicine.

Furthermore, he has made several significant contributions in the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission studies and studies that have informed birth outcomes, the health of HIV-exposed uninfected infants, surveillance of HIV incidence, and monitoring of HIV mutations associated with drug resistance.  He has 151 publications in peer-reviewed journals and recently the co-first author of the Nature paper on the rapid expansion of Omicron in Southern Africa.

His research interests are focused on characterisation of acute and primary HIV-1 subtype C infection, HIV-cure, molecular epidemiology of HIV-1C infection, drug resistance, dynamics of viral evolution, design and evaluation of cross-sectional methods for estimating HIV incidence, including improved accuracy and incorporating analysis of HIV diversity and estimation of transmission time into multi-assay algorithms.  He is involved in various pathogen genomics and bioinformatic studies including HIV, SARS-COV-2, Hepatitis, Human Papillomavirus, TB, CMV, Sapovirus and Norovirus.

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