Prof Thesla Palanee-Phillips

Director: Clinical Trials

Prof Thesla Palanee-Phillips is the Director of Clinical Trials at Wits RHI. She obtained her Master in Medical Science degree cum laude and her PhD in Physiology/Biochemistry. She subsequently completed an MSc in Clinical Trials with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She is currently the Deputy Director of the USAID-funded MATRIX award, which aims to expand the range of new innovative HIV prevention options for women. She is the lead investigator on a number of HIV prevention trials focusing on young women, men who have sex with men, and transgender women. She has initiated and oversees the regulatory oversight teams at Wits RHI. In her role as Wits RHI Laboratory Director, she has spearheaded a laboratory expansion initiative that now includes flow cytometry and GeneXpert, ensuring that tests are done on-site for real-time results and treatment study participants. She is the principal investigator on a number of investigator-driven studies, as well as multicentre HIV prevention clinical trials to assess the safety and effectiveness of oral and injectable PrEP. She was awarded her first National Institutes of Health (NIH) research project grant in 2021, as well as her first NIH R34 research planning grant. She mentors and supervises local and international postgraduate students.

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