Jackline Odhiambo, Project Manager
HVTN Core, Cape Town, South Africa
I grew up in Nairobi, Kenya, surrounded by medical researchers and academics, and at the age of 18 got my first experience working in clinical research. Coming into my own, fueled by my love for chemistry, and wanting to make a difference in people’s lives, I decided to study pharmacy. It was during my ‘gig’ doing data entry at 18 and later working as a hospital pharmacist that I first encountered the devastation caused by HIV; it was heart-breaking. I couldn’t believe that one day I’d be chatting with one of my patients, and the next day they’d be gone.
I knew from early on that I wanted to go the clinical research route after obtaining my B. Pharm. degree. I also quickly came to learn that my niche was in quality management of clinical research. I left pharmacy practice and was soon involved in numerous trials for TB (treatment studies), malaria (vaccine studies) and HIV (treatment, prevention, and vaccine studies) as a quality monitor (ah yes, I’ll admit that perhaps I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder!). It was the exposure to monitoring NIH-funded HIV studies that brought me to the HVTN, where I support the Africa Programmes Director (Dr. Glenda Gray) in matters of clinical operations, particularly on 2 large trials - HVTN 702 and HVTN 705/HPX2008. It is humbling that I’m now involved in projects that could help prevent the devastation that HIV brings with it.
I love the fact that I work with very supportive colleagues (especially since my role is ever-evolving), whose common goal is to see the success of our vaccine trials.