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May 10, 2005

Rakai Health Sciences Building Opened in Uganda

Ronald Gray, MD

Ronald Gray, MD

Uganda researchers, and colleagues at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, marked a milestone in the fight against HIV with the opening of a $2 million research and clinical center. The Rakai Health Sciences Program in Kalisizo, Rakai District, Uganda is a large-scale, population-based, cohort study of 12,000 adults in over 50 Rakai communities each year. The building includes state-of-the-art laboratories and data management, clinical and training facilities, as well as office space and a conference room. Construction took two years to complete.

“Previously, space constraints limited the research and treatment that could be undertaken. With the construction of this building, the Program will continue to support the existing public health systems and improve prevention programs for HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases in Uganda,” said Ronald Gray, MD, a Bloomberg School professor in the Department of Population and Family Health Sciences.

The Rakai Program was started in 1987 by Ugandan researchers, in collaboration with researchers from Columbia University and later joined by scientists from the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Gray is the Johns Hopkins University principal investigator. The Program now employs over 400 Ugandans in Rakai and Entebbe.

The study collects sociodemographic, behavioral and health information by interview, and obtains specimens for HIV, STD and other infectious disease diagnoses. Nested within this cohort are randomized trials of HIV prevention, observational epidemiologic studies, service provision and evaluation and basic science studies.

Funding for construction of the building was provided by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Rakai Program is one of three International Centers for Excellence in Research (ICER), which is sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Thomas Quinn, MD, Johns Hopkins professor of medicine, is the primary investigator on the ICER program, which supported the completion and equipping of the laboratories and data management facilities in the new building.
– Kenna L. Lowe

Public Affairs media contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Kenna Lowe or Tim Parsons at 410-955-6878 or paffairs@jhsph.edu. Photographs of Ronald Gray are available upon request.