Thesla Palanee-Phillips

Director: Clinical Trials

M Med Sci MSc PhD

Dr Palanee-Phillips is a South African medical scientist whose research has focused on sexual and reproductive health with emphasis in the areas of biomedical HIV prevention with ARV based microbicides, vaginal rings, oral and injectable PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis). Through this work she and her team increase uptake of HIV/STI testing in marginalized populations including adolescent girls and young women (AGYW), men who have sex with men and transgender women. Trained as a medical laboratory scientist, she has expanded her expertise to include designing and implementing clinical trials and integrating complex laboratory components as well as qualitative, behavioural, and implementation science-framed questions into clinical trials and investigator driven research. She has a particular interest in questions that bridge HIV prevention with sexual and reproductive health and barriers and facilitators that impact access to healthcare services. She has expertise in conducting clinical trials and investigator driven research initiatives leading a number of Phase 1/2/3 investigational new drug clinical trials, and co-leading a NIH R34 and NIH R01-supported research projects. The R34 is exploring opportunities for STI self-testing and diagnosis to trigger PrEP restart in AGYW and the R01 is assessing opportunities to improve STI testing and treatment to reduce STI recurrence among a cohort of cisgender adolescent girls and young women in South Africa. Dr. Palanee-Phillips is Director for Clinical trials at Wits RHI, Lab Director for Wits RHI and Deputy Director of a five year USAID award called MATRIX : Microbicide R&D to Advance HIV Prevention Technologies through Responsive Innovation and eXcellence (MATRIX), She is also an Associate Prof at the University of the Witwatersrand and an Affiliate Assoc Prof at the University of Washington, USA. In addition to her research, Dr. Palanee-Phillips supervises post graduate students at the University of the Witwatersrand and University of Washington.

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