HVTN Scientific Leadership Development

Meet the 2023 Awardees
Scientific Leadership Development 2023 Cohort

The HVTN’s new Scientific Leadership Development (SLD) program has a goal of identifying emerging scientific leaders in the field and committing resources to their professional development. The overall goal is to expand the pool of diverse scientists within HVTN who are able to successfully provide scientific leadership for HIV vaccine clinical trials around the world.

The 2nd cohort of SLD awardees has been selected for a year-long mentored project starting in 2023. Please join the HVTN in congratulating these emerging leaders:

Matoga MBBS, MSc, PhD candidate

Mitch Matoga MBBS, MSc, PhD candidate

Dr. Matoga is a physician scientist who serves as the Director of STI Research and Clinical Services and the Implementation Science Research Unit Lead at the University of North Carolina Project in Lilongwe, Malawi. Since 2011, he served as a medical officer, study coordinator and site co-Principal Investigator for several ACTG and HPTN studies, including ACTG’s A5230, A5263, A5264, A5271, A5273, A5274, A5278, A5279, A5288, A5297, HPTN052 and HTPN084 studies, and served as a member of the ACTG neurology and hepatitis transformative science groups. Recently, he served as the site co-Principal Investigator for the HVTN705 (IMBOKODO) study and is currently a member of the HVTN RAMP Scholars Review Committee and a Principal Investigator for several STI, HIV prevention and implementation science projects.

Mentor: Mina C. Hosseinipour, M.D., M.P.H., Professor of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Scientific Director at University of North Carolina Project Malawi.

Vimla Naicker

Vimla Naicker, MBChB

Dr Vimla Naicker has been a sub-investigator on clinical trials including HIV clinical trials for over 15 years. She has been the principal investigator at the HIV and other Infectious Diseases Research Unit, SAMRC, South Africa since 2016 on HVTN studies including HVTN 108 and HVTN 705 (Imbokodo) and CoVPN studies including CoVPN 3003 (Ensemble) and CoVPN 3008(Ubuntu). She obtained her Masters in Public Health in 2022 and is currently pursuing a PhD in Clinical Medicine.

Mentor: Ameena Goga, M.D., M.S., Ph.D., South African Medical Research Council HIV/Infectious Diseases Research Unit

Tariro D Chawana, MBChB, MSc, DPhil

Tariro D Chawana, MBChB, MSc, DPhil

Dr. Chawana is the Clinical Research Site Leader at the Seke South CRS in Harare, Zimbabwe since 2022 and sub-investigator since 2019. In that time, she has served as an investigator on HVTN 705, HVTN 140/HPTN 101, CoVPN 5001, HVTN 805/HPTN 093 and HVTN 405/HPTN 1901. She was sub-investigator in other networks, including IMPAACT (IMPAACT 2009, P1115 and 2010 studies) and HPTN (HPTN 084), and non-network studies (PROMOTE, O-PrEP and PACT). 

Dr. Chawana received a M.Sc. and D.Phil in Clinical Pharmacology both from the University of Zimbabwe. Her focus is assessing novel methods of monitoring adherence to various HIV prevention and treatment therapies in high-risk and vulnerable populations. She also aspires to become an independent investigator. 

Mentors: Z. Mike Chirenje, M.D., F.R.C.O.G., University of Zimbabwe Clinical Trials Research Centre; Lynda Stranix-Chibanda, M.B.Ch.B, M.Med. Paediatrics, University of Zimbabwe Clinical Trials Research Centre.

Cassie Grimsley Ackerley, M.D., M.Sc.

Cassie Grimsley Ackerley, M.D., M.Sc.

Dr. Grimsley Ackerley is an Adult and Pediatric Infectious Disease specialist and a co-investigator at the Emory Hope Clinic Clinical Research Site (CRS) in Decatur, Georgia. Since 2020, she has served as a co-investigator for multiple HVTN and CoVPN clinical trials, including the HVTN 706 (MOSAICO) and CoVPN3003 (ENSEMBLE) protocols. She also serves as principal investigator for a scientist-led HIV prevention mucosal study and will be the lead site investigator for the HVTN 308 protocol at the Hope Clinic CRS. Dr. Grimsley Ackerley is invested in fostering greater representation of underserved groups in HIV prevention studies, including pediatric and gender minority populations.  

Mentor: Srilatha Edupuganti, M.D., Emory University School of Medicine

Alfredo J Mena Lora, MD

Alfredo J Mena Lora, MD

Alfredo J Mena Lora is an infectious disease physician and an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). He was a co-investigator for ENSEMBLE, COVE and COVAIL COVID-19 vaccine studies at UIC. He was also the principal investigator for the NIH ACTIV-1 IM COVID-19 study at UIC. Dr Mena Lora enjoys working with underserved communities. He has a passion for medical education, patient care, and working towards inclusion and representation of minorities in clinical studies and research.

Mentor: Richard Novak, M.D., University of Illinois Chicago Department of Medicine/Infectious Diseases