East Meets Westwood
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The UCLA/Fogarty AITRP has produced spin-offs, including a two-year
program training AIDS researchers in India led by John Fahey,
a professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics,
and of medicine. The participants spend three months at UCLA designing
research projects in consultation with faculty, and then return
to India to carry out their projects while remaining in close
contact with their UCLA mentors. Notable achievements include
the training of a scientist developing a vaccine against a strain
of HIV common in India. The program has also forged a productive
relationship with the Tuberculosis Research Center in Chennai
(formerly Madras). Given that HIV and TB co-infection is high,
complicating treatment, Fahey and colleagues convinced the center’s
leadership to move into AIDS research and send a scientist to
UCLA for training. India’s Armed Forces Medical Services
has sent several officers, contributing to the knowledge base
that enabled it to begin using anti-retroviral therapy to treat
AIDS patients a year before the Ministry of Health.
INES DOURADO GRADUATED WITH a degree
in medicine from the Catholic University of Salvador, Brazil,
in 1981, two years before AIDS was first reported in her country.
Brazil would become the epicenter of the epidemic in South America,
accounting for 57 percent of all AIDS cases in Latin America and
the Caribbean. By the end of 2001, approximately 610,000 Brazilians
were living with HIV/AIDS; among populations at greatest risk,
an estimated 42 percent were infected.
Dourado was on the faculty at the Federal University
of Bahia in 1989 when she took leave to study at UCLA, earning
her doctorate through the AITRP.
"AIDS was becoming a major public-health problem
in Brazil. My intention was always to come back after my Ph.D.
and be involved in AIDS prevention, to contribute to the scientific
advancement here in Brazil," she says, sitting in her office
on the fourth floor of the university’s Instituto de Saúde
Coletiva (Collective Health Institute), where she lectures on
epidemiology. As she speaks on this hot, humid afternoon in October,
the thumping of drums mixed with the sounds of people performing
capoeira — a cross between a martial art and dance created
400 years ago by slaves — filters up from the streets of
Salvador da Bahia. The air of this city at the hub of Afro-Brazilian
culture is thick with the smell of acarajé, a local delicacy
of bean mixture and dende oil cooked on street corners by Baianas
— dark-skinned local women dressed in heavy, white lace.