A Rich History

The relationship between Harvard and Botswana is longstanding. In 1996, Max Essex, DVM, PhD, of the Harvard School of Public Health, started working in Botswana to try to understand the extraordinarily high rates of HIV that were threatening the nation. (For a time, Botswana had the highest rates of HIV in the world.) That year, the Botswana-Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP) was formed as a collaborative research and training initiative and has grown into a fully-operational research laboratory and training center in Gaborone, Botswana, with ongoing research and training initiatives occurring throughout Botswana. Many seminal clinical and laboratory studies Roger Shapirohave been conducted on topics such as mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV, design of an HIV-1C vaccine, and studies on HIV drug resistance at BHP.

Roger Shapiro, MD, of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the BIDMC, was one of the first researchers to begin working at BHP and has been a leader on studies from southern Africa related to infant outcomes and peripartum PMTCT strategies since 1999. With funding assistance from the Harvard Initiative for Global Health, Dr. Shapiro established a Clinical Care and Research Fellowship at the Scottish Livingstone Hospital in Molepolole, Botswana, to support fellows and junior faculty starting careers in international HIV work. This fellowship has greatly benefited the BIDMC and the Harvard community at large, as residents from across Harvard have rotated through Scottish Livingstone Hospital (SLH) under the tutelage of the fellows to learn about providing HIV care in a resource-limited setting.

Harvard's relationship with Scottish Livingstone Hospital and the national medical school of Botswana has grown remarkably over the last few years with the full-time appointment of an on-site BIDMC internal medicine attending. Dagan Coppock, MD, was the first BIDMC faculty to serve in this role (from 2011-2013). In the fall of 2013, Tomer Barak, MD, took over from Dr. Coppock. Read more about this collaboration and other News and Updates.