HVTN Awards

Meet Our 2023 Awardees

Every year at the Full Group Meeting (FGM), HVTN Leadership presents awards to recognize clinical site staff and affiliated individuals who have made significant contributions to the Network. We thank them for their dedication, determination, and lasting impact. Please join the HVTN in congratulating the 2023 awards recipients:

HVTN Service Award

Honors those who have met a particular challenge in their work, and whose creative response has strengthened the Network.

Jen Han RN, BSN, MPH
Jen Han RN, BSN, MPH
Clinical Research Nurse, Seattle WA

"Jen Han's nomination for service is for her stellar efforts to foster inter-connections across HVTN CRSs. Jen is a passionate advocate for equity and inclusion in research participation in HVTN studies and uplifts the network through her participation in the DAIDS Cross-Network Gender Diverse and Transgender Working Group, elevating inclusivity at the highest levels. She is exceptional in her ability to translate her clinical experience with participants into ensuring research standards, study documents and procedures are trans- and gender- inclusive at the network level. Jen also demonstrates action-orientation and collegiality in ensuring that clinic coordinator concerns are escalated to Core in order to effect systemic change, amplifying the voices of her coordinator colleagues at other sites. Instead of solely serving as an outstanding participant-focused clinician and a rock-star clinic coordinator with meticulous eyes on every document, Jen works to share her enthusiasm with other sites, and encourage all of us to work together. Our CRS, our network, and the quest for a preventive HIV vaccine are all the better for this."

HVTN Citizenship Award

Honors those who, in the performance of their duties and activities, exemplify the best qualities of Network citizenship.

Dr. Katherine Gill, MBBCH
Dr. Katherine Gill, MBBCH
Principal Investigator, Masiphumelele, Cape Town

"Dr. Gill engages without hesitation in committing to the development of COVID and HIV vaccine science. She has meticulously led multiple network trials successfully and is a model leader and developer of her staff to ensure growth in the field and development of younger scientists. She is passionate about her work and endeavours to conduct investigator driven research over and above what is asked of her to answer key questions surrounding behavioural and pharmacological interventions to help end HIV. She is an experienced and well respected clinical trialist in Sub Saharan Africa and consistently echoes the values of the HVTN to promote HIV science."

HVTN Mentoring Award

Honors an individual deserving special recognition for excellence in mentoring researchers and/or other research staff.

Dr. Monde Muyoyeta MBBCH, PhD
Dr. Monde Muyoyeta MBBCH, PhD
Program Director, Lusaka – Matero, Zambia

"Monde Muyoyeta, MD, PhD, Director TB Programs CIDRZ, is a Zambian Medical Doctor with a PhD in infectious diseases epidemiology She has over 17 years' experience in health systems and research. She worked as PI on the GSK/AERAS TB018 phase 2b Vaccine study. She is currently Matero CRS Leader and Co-Investigator on CoVPN 3008 study and will lead future TB vaccine and treatment DAIDS sponsored studies that are opened at the Matero site and is leading Non DAIDS TB studies in other CIDRZ Clinical Research Sites. She is providing mentorship to junior investigators, one of them who has successfully conducted the CoVPN 3008 as a PI and others have successfully worked as Co Investigators; She is a mentor on a CFAR scientist mentored award and a K23 grant.“

"Personally, she has exposed me to opportunities that have allowed me to grow not only in confidence but also in experience as an upcoming leader. She has provided support to me as a first time Principal Investigator on the CoVPN 3008 study and through her mentorship I have been able to explore and been accepted for more training opportunities that are much required for my professional development.“

Octavio Valente, Jr. Volunteer Service Award

Octavio Valente, Jr. was a dedicated CAB member from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil who passed away on March 21, 2006. Octavio served many roles in the HVTN and in the HIV/AIDS community through his advocacy, dedication, and spirited energy.

In his honor, this service award is given to a CAB member who has demonstrated exemplary leadership and dedication in the HVTN.

Silvia Barbarán
Silvia Barbarán
CAB Member, ACSA CRS: Iquitos, Peru

Silvia has been a CAB member since the ACSA CAB was founded in 2002, providing advice for over 20 years. She contributed to the review and implementation of more than 15 studies. She serves as a mentor to newer CAB members, helping to maintain the quality of CAB activities over time. Her ability to express herself and be understandable to laypersons has made her the preferred spokesperson for the local media on key dates (e.g. World AIDS Day, etc.), which has supported the site’s community engagement.

As a woman living with HIV since 2001, Silvia was part of the Amazon advocacy group that fought to get access to HIV antiretroviral treatment for free, as well as influencing public health and education policies to improve the quality of life for PLHIV in Loreto.  Silvia is founder of "Lacitos de Luz", an association that houses pregnant mothers with HIV and orphaned children, supporting their inclusion in education systems and fighting against discrimination. Together with Lazos de Vida Association, she promotes screening, access and adherence to ART, as well as managing AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s site in Iquitos.

Silvia Barbarán is an icon of the fight against HIV in the Peruvian Amazon. 

Bonnie Mathieson Young Investigator Award

In recognition of Bonnie’s unrelenting contributions to the HVTN and dedication to HIV vaccine research, these awards were established in her honor.

Presented annually, to recognize young investigators who have published an outstanding first author, co-first author, or senior author paper with the HVTN in the previous year.

Awards are granted for lab-based articles and non-lab-based research articles.

Shiwei Xu (left), Molly Carpenter (center), Rachel Speng (right)
Shiwei Xu (left), Molly Carpenter (center), Rachel Speng (right)
Lab Based: Co-first authors Shiwei Xu, Molly Carpenter, and Rachel Spreng
“Impact of adjuvants on the biophysical and functional characteristics of HIV vaccine-elicited antibodies in humans” npj Vaccines, 2022
  • A phase 1 trial (AVEG015) of 112 participants received gp120SF-2 at months 0, 2, 6 with one of 6 different adjuvants: alum, MF59, liposomal MPL, MF59 + MTP-PE, SAF/2, and SAF/2 + MDP. Goal of the study was to determine effects of different adjuvants on many biophysical and functional facets of humoral response including titer, ADCP, ADCC, IgG/IgA ratios, FcgR binding.
  • Three adjuvants, MF59 + MTP-PE, SAF/2, and SAF/2 + MDP, increased the peak magnitude and durability of antigen-specific IgG3, IgA, FcγR-binding responses and ADCP activity, as compared to alum. Linear regression analysis identified biophysical features including gp120-specific IgG and FcγR-binding responses that could predict functional activity. The assays showed how adjuvants affect the flavor of humoral immune response to vaccination. This theme will be shown again in the plenary on HVTN 137 by Dr. McElrath’s team. 
Kwabena Asare
Non-lab Based: Kwabena Asare
U KwaZulu Natal and CAPRISA, Durban, South Africa
“Impact of Point-of-Care Testing on the Management of Sexually Transmitted Infections in South Africa: Evidence from the HVTN702 Human Immunodeficiency Virus Vaccine Trial” Clinical Infectious Diseases, 2023
  • This paper used a cohort of women and men from HVTN 702 to compare two types of STI testing: POC and central lab on treatment initiation and adverse event reporting. Data were collected from 3 CRS (Isipingo, Verulam and eThekwini). Isipingo/Verulam used central lab for NG/CT testing and eThekwini used POC. For T. vaginalis, all 3 CRSs used POC. Treatment initiation was 39 times faster at eThekwini for NG/CT than Isipingo/Verulam with no difference for TV. Similarly, time to adverse event reporting was 3.38 times faster.
  • Conclusions: POC led to much faster treatment initiation and AE reporting than central lab. This has implications for policy decisions in resource limited health care settings. 

Special Recognition Award

Thank You Wakefield.

Steve Wakefield
Steve Wakefield
HIV Vaccine Trials Network, February 2000-June 2020

Steve Wakefield, the former HVTN Director of External Relations, cultivated and spearheaded strategic partnerships with organizations and stakeholders across the globe. Wakefield, as he is known by his colleagues, community members, and friends, utilized his voice to advocate for the needs of underrepresented, underserved populations in medical research for over 35 years. Throughout his service to the HVTN, Wakefield developed various programs to increase community participation in HIV clinical trials, including (but not limited to) the HANC Legacy Project and HIV Prevention Trials Network’s Black Caucus. Though he retired from the HVTN in 2020, Wakefield still advocates for marginalized communities, serving on numerous committees such as the NIAID AIDS Vaccine Research Subcommittee.

Wakefield Outstanding Dedication Award

Honors an individual, group, or organizational stakeholder for their years of exceptional contributions and extraordinary, committed service to HIV vaccine research.

Named in honor of longtime HVTN External Relations Director Steve Wakefield for his decades of exemplary service, this award recognizes the recipient’s steadfast passion for HIV research, shaping HIV vaccine education and research efforts in their local community, at a local research site, nationwide, or globally.

Latin America Awardee

Epicentro is a community-based organization serving the LGBTQIA+ community in Lima, Peru. Led by esteemed community leader Hugo Sánchez (Executive Director), Epicentro works to advance universal healthcare access (with an emphasis on improving sexual health) and offers various sexual and mental health services. Since its founding in 2008, Epicentro has supported HVTN trials, educating communities about HIV research and vaccines as prevention tools. Epicentro also plays an active role in HVTN/CoVPN social media engagement in Peru, creating content that empowers and informs Latin communities.

Rev. Edwin Sanders II
North America Awardee
Rev. Edwin Sanders II

Reverend Edwin Sanders is the Senior Servant and Founder of Metropolitan Interdenominational Church in Nashville, Tennessee. A staunch advocate for faith communities, health equity, and diversity in clinical trials, Rev. Sanders led the HVTN’s Faith Initiative from its inception to 2022 and the COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN) Faith Initiative from 2020-2021. Rev. Sanders also served as one of the first Chairs of the Legacy Project under the HVTN and the Office of HIV/AIDS Network Coordination (HANC). The HVTN’s consistent prioritization of faith community engagement is the legacy of Rev. Sanders’ decades of tireless work.