Maria J. Wawer's research activities focus on HIV, associated infections, and reproductive health in Uganda. In collaboration with colleagues at the Uganda Virus Research Institute in Entebbe, Makerere University in Kampala, and at Johns Hopkins, in 1988 she established the Rakai Health Sciences Program (previously known as the Rakai Project), which has become one of the largest HIV research, prevention and care programs in Africa. Her research interests include molecular epidemiology, HIV and STD prevention trials, and risk factors (both behavioral and biological) for HIV and reproductive health, in general. She also has conducted reproductive health and HIV studies in Thailand, Brazil, Egypt, Morocco, and over 15 sub-Saharan countries including Sahel, and East and West Africa. In addition to her research activities, Dr. Wawer is a regular reviewer for a number of journals, including The Lancet, JID, AIDS, American Journal of Epidemiology, and JAIDS. Dr. Wawer serves on various advisory groups including the NIH Office of AIDS Research Working Group on Preventive Research, and is a member of the the NIH AIDS Clinical and Epidemiological (ACE) Study Section.
PhD, 1979, University of Toronto
MD, 1977, McMaster University
BS, 1974, University of New Brunswick
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Rakai Health Sciences Program, Uganda, Uganda: Dr. Wawer co-founded and is co-principle investigator on the Rakai Health Sciences Program, a 15 year research collaboration between Columbia, Johns Hopkins, and the Uganda Virus Research Institute. The Rakai Program conducts one of the largest community-based HIV epidemiological surveillance studies in the world, the Rakai Community Cohort Study (RCCS), which covers the population of some 50 rural villages in southwestern Uganda. Within the RCCS, researchers have nested multiple basic science, molecular epidemiology and behavioral studies; have conducted complex community and individually randomized HIV and STD prevention trials; and have carried out operations research on service delivery, including HIV testing and counseling, prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission, and many others. Among other studies, we are currently conducting two randomized, controlled trials of male circumcision for HIV prevention in men and in their partners. The program recently initiated delivery of HIV antiretroviral drugs in Rakai villages (under the CDC-Uganda PEPFAR grant), and has received NIH funds to evaluate the early effects of ARV introduction at the community level. An NIH grant has been submitted, via NIAID, to continue this work subsequent to the Office of AIDS Research grant.