Robert J Wilkinson

University of Cape Town, Kaapstad, Western Cape, South Africa

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Publications (172)1240 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Treatment of persons with latent tuberculosis (TB) infection at greatest risk of reactivation is an important component of TB control and elimination strategies. Biomarkers evaluating the effectiveness of treatment of latent TB infection have not yet been identified. This information would enhance control efforts and assist the evaluation of new treatment regimes. We designed a two-group, two-arm, randomised clinical study of tuberculin skin test-positive participants: 26 with documented contact with TB patients and 34 with non-documented contact. Participants in each group were randomly assigned to the immediate- or deferred-isoniazid treatment arms. Assays of in vitro interferon (IFN)-γ secretion in response to recombinant Rv1737 and overlapping synthetic peptide pools from various groups of immunodominant proteins were performed. During isoniazid therapy, a significant increase from baseline in the proportion of IFN-γ responders to the 10-kDa culture filtrate protein, Rv2031, Rv0849, Rv1986, Rv2659c, Rv2693c and the recombinant Rv1737 protein was observed (p≤0.05). The peptide pool of Rv0849 and Rv1737 recombinant proteins induced the highest percentage of IFN-γ responders after isoniazid therapy. The in vitro IFN-γ responses to these proteins might represent useful markers to evaluate changes associated with treatment of latent TB infection.
    The European respiratory journal. 10/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Paradoxical tuberculosis-associated immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (TB-IRIS) is an aberrant inflammatory response occurring in a subset of TB-HIV co-infected patients initiating anti-retroviral therapy (ART). Here, we examined monocyte activation by prospectively quantitating pro-inflammatory plasma markers and monocyte subsets in TB-HIV co-infected patients from a South Indian cohort at baseline and following ART initiation at the time of IRIS, or at equivalent time points in non-IRIS controls. Pro-inflammatory biomarkers of innate and myeloid cell activation were increased in plasma of IRIS patients pre-ART and at the time of IRIS; this association was confirmed in a second cohort in South Africa. Increased expression of these markers correlated with elevated antigen load as measured by higher sputum culture grade and shorter duration of anti-TB therapy. Phenotypic analysis revealed the frequency of CD14++CD16- monocytes was an independent predictor of TB-IRIS, and was closely associated with plasma levels of CRP, TNF, IL-6 and tissue factor during IRIS. In addition, production of inflammatory cytokines by monocytes was higher in IRIS patients compared to controls pre-ART. These data point to a major role of mycobacterial antigen load and myeloid cell hyperactivation in the pathogenesis of TB-IRIS, and implicate monocytes and monocyte-derived cytokines as potential targets for TB-IRIS prevention or treatment.
    PLoS Pathog. 10/2014; 10:e1004433.
  • Clinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. 08/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Antiretroviral therapy reduces the risk of tuberculosis, but tuberculosis is more common in people with HIV than in people without HIV. We aimed to assess the effect of isoniazid preventive therapy on the risk of tuberculosis in people infected with HIV-1 concurrently receiving antiretroviral therapy.
    Lancet. 05/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Background Improved diagnostic tests for tuberculosis in children are needed. We hypothesized that transcriptional signatures of host blood could be used to distinguish tuberculosis from other diseases in African children who either were or were not infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Methods The study population comprised prospective cohorts of children who were undergoing evaluation for suspected tuberculosis in South Africa (655 children), Malawi (701 children), and Kenya (1599 children). Patients were assigned to groups according to whether the diagnosis was culture-confirmed tuberculosis, culture-negative tuberculosis, diseases other than tuberculosis, or latent tuberculosis infection. Diagnostic signatures distinguishing tuberculosis from other diseases and from latent tuberculosis infection were identified from genomewide analysis of RNA expression in host blood. Results We identified a 51-transcript signature distinguishing tuberculosis from other diseases in the South African and Malawian children (the discovery cohort). In the Kenyan children (the validation cohort), a risk score based on the signature for tuberculosis and for diseases other than tuberculosis showed a sensitivity of 82.9% (95% confidence interval [CI], 68.6 to 94.3) and a specificity of 83.6% (95% CI, 74.6 to 92.7) for the diagnosis of culture-confirmed tuberculosis. Among patients with cultures negative for Mycobacterium tuberculosis who were treated for tuberculosis (those with highly probable, probable, or possible cases of tuberculosis), the estimated sensitivity was 62.5 to 82.3%, 42.1 to 80.8%, and 35.3 to 79.6%, respectively, for different estimates of actual tuberculosis in the groups. In comparison, the sensitivity of the Xpert MTB/RIF assay for molecular detection of M. tuberculosis DNA in cases of culture-confirmed tuberculosis was 54.3% (95% CI, 37.1 to 68.6), and the sensitivity in highly probable, probable, or possible cases was an estimated 25.0 to 35.7%, 5.3 to 13.3%, and 0%, respectively; the specificity of the assay was 100%. Conclusions RNA expression signatures provided data that helped distinguish tuberculosis from other diseases in African children with and those without HIV infection. (Funded by the European Union Action for Diseases of Poverty Program and others).
    New England Journal of Medicine 05/2014; 370(18):1712-1723. · 54.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In patients infected with human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) neuropathic symptoms may develop within weeks of starting combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). This timing coincides with the occurrence of immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome. Our objective was to investigate the longitudinal association of plasma cytokine and soluble receptor concentrations with incident neuropathic symptoms within 12 weeks of starting programme-based cART in a nested case-control study. One hundred and twenty adults without neuropathic symptoms and about to initiate cART were followed longitudinally for 24 weeks after cART initiation. Subjects were examined for peripheral neuropathy at baseline (pre-cART) and 2-, 4-, 12- and 24 weeks thereafter. Individuals developing neuropathic symptoms within 12 weeks of starting cART were matched in a nested case-control design with those remaining symptom-free for at least 24 weeks. Plasma was collected at each visit. Cytokines and soluble receptors were quantified using multiplex immunometric assays. Incident neuropathic symptoms occurred in 32 (27%) individuals within 12 weeks of starting cART for the first time. Cytokine concentrations increased at 2 weeks, irrespective of symptom-status, returning to baseline concentrations at 12 weeks. Compared to the control group, the symptomatic group had higher baseline levels of interleukin-1 receptor (IL-1R)-antagonist. The symptomatic group also showed greater increases in soluble interleukin-2 receptor-alpha and tumour necrosis factor (TNF) receptor-II levels at week 2 and soluble interleukin-6 receptor levels at week 12. Ratios of pro-inflammatory- vs anti-inflammatory cytokines were higher for TNF-alpha/IL-4 (p = 0.022) and interferon-gamma/IL-10 (p = 0.044) in those developing symptoms. After 24 weeks of cART, the symptomatic group showed higher CD4+ counts (p = 0.002). The initiation of cART in previously treatment naive individuals was associated with a cytokine 'burst' between 2- and 4 weeks compared with pre-cART levels. Individuals developing neuropathic symptoms within 12 weeks of starting cART showed evidence of altered cytokine concentrations even prior to initiating cART, most notably higher circulating IL-1R-antagonist levels, and altered ratios of "pain-associated" cytokine and soluble receptors shortly after cART initiation.
    BMC Infectious Diseases 02/2014; 14(1):71. · 3.03 Impact Factor
  • Robert John Wilkinson
    The lancet. Respiratory medicine. 02/2014; 2(2):85-7.
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    Anna K Coussens, Adrian R Martineau, Robert J Wilkinson
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    ABSTRACT: TUBERCULOSIS (TB) DISEASE ACTIVATION IS NOW BELIEVED TO ARISE DUE TO A LACK OF INFLAMMATORY HOMEOSTATIC CONTROL AT EITHER END OF THE SPECTRUM OF INFLAMMATION: either due to immunosuppression (decreased antimicrobial activity) or due to immune activation (excess/aberrant inflammation). Vitamin D metabolites can increase antimicrobial activity in innate immune cells, which, in the context of HIV-1 coinfection, have insufficient T cell-mediated help to combat Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) infection. Moreover, maintaining vitamin D sufficiency prior to MTB infection enhances the innate antimicrobial response to T cell-mediated interferon-γ. Conversely, vitamin D can act to inhibit expression and secretion of a broad range of inflammatory mediators and matrix degrading enzymes driving immunopathology during active TB and antiretroviral- (ARV-) mediated immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS). Adjunct vitamin D therapy during treatment of active TB may therefore reduce lung pathology and TB morbidity, accelerate resolution of cavitation and thereby decrease the chance of transmission, improve lung function following therapy, prevent relapse, and prevent IRIS in those initiating ARVs. Future clinical trials of vitamin D for TB prevention and treatment must be designed to detect the most appropriate primary endpoint, which in some cases should be anti-inflammatory and not antimicrobial.
    Scientifica. 01/2014; 2014:903680.
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    H Esmail, C E Barry, D B Young, R J Wilkinson
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    ABSTRACT: The global health community has set itself the task of eliminating tuberculosis (TB) as a public health problem by 2050. Although progress has been made in global TB control, the current decline in incidence of 2% yr(-1) is far from the rate needed to achieve this. If we are to succeed in this endeavour, new strategies to reduce the reservoir of latently infected persons (from which new cases arise) would be advantageous. However, ascertainment of the extent and risk posed by this group is poor. The current diagnostics tests (tuberculin skin test and interferon-gamma release assays) poorly predict who will develop active disease and the therapeutic options available are not optimal for the scale of the intervention that may be required. In this article, we outline a basis for our current understanding of latent TB and highlight areas where innovation leading to development of novel diagnostic tests, drug regimens and vaccines may assist progress. We argue that the pool of individuals at high risk of progression may be significantly smaller than the 2.33 billion thought to be immune sensitized by Mycobacterium tuberculosis and that identifying and targeting this group will be an important strategy in the road to elimination.
    Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences 01/2014; 369(1645):20130437. · 6.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Central nervous system immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (CNS-IRIS) develops in 9 %-47 % of persons with HIV infection and a CNS opportunistic infection who start antiretroviral therapy and is associated with a mortality rate of 13 %-75 %. These rates vary according to the causative pathogen. Common CNS-IRIS events occur in relation to Cryptococcus, tuberculosis (TB), and JC virus, but several other mycobacteria, fungi, and viruses have been associated with IRIS. IRIS symptoms often mimic the original infection, and diagnosis necessitates consideration of treatment failure, microbial resistance, and an additional neurological infection. These diagnostic challenges often delay IRIS diagnosis and treatment. Corticosteroids have been used to treat CNS-IRIS, with variable responses; the best supportive evidence exists for the treatment of TB-IRIS. Pathogenic mechanisms vary: Cryptococcal IRIS is characterized by a paucity of cerebrospinal inflammation prior to antiretroviral therapy, whereas higher levels of inflammatory markers at baseline predispose to TB meningitis IRIS. This review focuses on advances in the understanding of CNS-IRIS over the past 2 years.
    Current Infectious Disease Reports 10/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: The HIV-TB associated immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (TB-IRIS) can complicate combined treatments for HIV-1 and TB. Little is known about tissue damage in TB-IRIS. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) degrade components of the extracellular matrix and consequently may play a role in such immunopathology. Here we investigated the involvement of MMPs in TB-IRIS. We determined MMP transcript abundance and secreted protein in M. tuberculosis-stimulated PBMCs from 22 TB-IRIS patients and 22 non-IRIS controls. We also measured MMP protein levels in corresponding serum and the effect of prednisone - which reduces the duration of symptoms in IRIS patients - or placebo treatment on MMP transcript and circulating MMP protein levels. PBMCs from TB-IRIS had increased MMP-1, -3, -7, and -10 transcript levels when compared with those of controls at either 6 or 24 hours. Similarly, MMP-1, -3, -7, and -10 protein secretion in stimulated cultures was higher in TB-IRIS than in controls. Serum MMP-7 concentration was elevated in TB-IRIS and 2 weeks of corticosteroid therapy decreased this level, although not significantly. TB-IRIS is associated with a distinct pattern of MMP gene and protein activation. Modulation of dysregulated MMP activity may represent a novel therapeutic approach to alleviate TB-IRIS in HIV-TB patients undergoing treatment. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    European Journal of Immunology 10/2013; · 4.97 Impact Factor
  • European Respiratory Journal 10/2013; · 6.36 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Studies on Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) antigens are of interest in order to improve vaccine efficacy and to define biomarkers for diagnosis and treatment monitoring. The methodologies used for these investigations differ greatly between laboratories and discordant results are common. The IFN-gamma response to two well characterized MTB antigens ESAT-6 and CFP-10, in the form of recombinant proteins and synthetic peptides, was evaluated in HIV-1 uninfected persons in both long-term (7 day) and 24 hour, commercially available QuantiFERON TB Gold in Tube (QFT-GIT), whole blood assays. Our findings showed differences in the IFN-gamma response between 24 hour and 7 day cultures, with recombinant proteins inducing a significantly higher response than the peptide pools in 7 day whole blood assays. The activity of peptides and recombinant proteins did not differ in 24 hour whole blood or peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) based assays, nor in the ELISpot assay. Further analysis by SELDI-TOF mass spectrometry showed that the peptides are degraded over the course of 7 days of incubation in whole blood whilst the recombinant proteins remain intact. This study therefore demonstrates that screening antigenic candidates as synthetic peptides in long-term whole blood assays may underestimate immunogenicity.
    PLoS ONE 10/2013; 8(8):e71351. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A major impediment to tuberculosis control in Africa is the difficulty in diagnosing active tuberculosis (TB), particularly in the context of HIV infection. We hypothesized that a unique host blood RNA transcriptional signature would distinguish TB from other diseases (OD) in HIV-infected and -uninfected patients, and that this could be the basis of a simple diagnostic test. Adult case-control cohorts were established in South Africa and Malawi of HIV-infected or -uninfected individuals consisting of 584 patients with either TB (confirmed by culture of Mycobacterium tuberculosis [M.TB] from sputum or tissue sample in a patient under investigation for TB), OD (i.e., TB was considered in the differential diagnosis but then excluded), or healthy individuals with latent TB infection (LTBI). Individuals were randomized into training (80%) and test (20%) cohorts. Blood transcriptional profiles were assessed and minimal sets of significantly differentially expressed transcripts distinguishing TB from LTBI and OD were identified in the training cohort. A 27 transcript signature distinguished TB from LTBI and a 44 transcript signature distinguished TB from OD. To evaluate our signatures, we used a novel computational method to calculate a disease risk score (DRS) for each patient. The classification based on this score was first evaluated in the test cohort, and then validated in an independent publically available dataset (GSE19491). In our test cohort, the DRS classified TB from LTBI (sensitivity 95%, 95% CI [87-100]; specificity 90%, 95% CI [80-97]) and TB from OD (sensitivity 93%, 95% CI [83-100]; specificity 88%, 95% CI [74-97]). In the independent validation cohort, TB patients were distinguished both from LTBI individuals (sensitivity 95%, 95% CI [85-100]; specificity 94%, 95% CI [84-100]) and OD patients (sensitivity 100%, 95% CI [100-100]; specificity 96%, 95% CI [93-100]). Limitations of our study include the use of only culture confirmed TB patients, and the potential that TB may have been misdiagnosed in a small proportion of OD patients despite the extensive clinical investigation used to assign each patient to their diagnostic group. In our study, blood transcriptional signatures distinguished TB from other conditions prevalent in HIV-infected and -uninfected African adults. Our DRS, based on these signatures, could be developed as a test for TB suitable for use in HIV endemic countries. Further evaluation of the performance of the signatures and DRS in prospective populations of patients with symptoms consistent with TB will be needed to define their clinical value under operational conditions. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
    PLoS Medicine 10/2013; 10(10):e1001538. · 15.25 Impact Factor
  • Molebogeng Xheedha Rangaka, Robert John Wilkinson
    The Lancet Infectious Diseases 08/2013; · 19.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background. Tuberculosis (TB) is transmitted by patients with pulmonary disease. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) drive lung destruction in TB but the resulting matrix degradation products (MDPs) have not been studied. We investigate the hypothesis that MMP activity generates matrix turnover products as correlates of lung pathology.Methods. Induced sputum and plasma were collected prospectively from HIV positive and negative patients with pulmonary TB and controls. Concentrations of MDPs and MMPs were analyzed by ELISA and Luminex array in two patient cohorts.Results. Procollagen III N-terminal propeptide (PIIINP) was 3.8-fold higher in induced sputum of HIV-uninfected TB patients compared to controls and desmosine, released during elastin degradation, was 2.4-fold higher. PIIINP was elevated in plasma of TB patients. Plasma PIIINP correlated with induced sputum MMP-1 concentrations and radiological scores, demonstrating that circulating MDPs reflect lung destruction. In a second patient cohort of mixed HIV seroprevalence, plasma PIIINP concentration was increased 3.0-fold above controls (p<0.001). Plasma matrix metalloproteinase-8 concentrations were also higher in TB patients (p=0.001). Receiver operating characteristic analysis utilising these two variables demonstrated an area under the curve of 0.832 (p <0.001).Conclusions. In pulmonary TB, MMP-driven immunopathology generates matrix degradation products.
    The Journal of Infectious Diseases 08/2013; · 5.85 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: HIV-1 patients co-infected with some pathogens are at risk of developing the immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS) when initiating antiretroviral therapy (ART). IRIS is characterized by inflammation leading to the clinical worsening of a treated infection or the unmasking of a previously undiagnosed condition or infection. It is commonly associated with tuberculosis (TB), 8-43% of the HIV-TB co-infected patients prescribed with antitubercular treatment and ART develop TB-IRIS. Although IRIS has been recognized for over 20 years, relatively little was known until recently about its pathogenesis. Despite these advances in understanding IRIS, there remains no immune biomarker for diagnostic or prognostic purposes. Here, we review the risk factors associated with TB-IRIS, the challenges in studying this syndrome, and how T lymphocytes, dysregulated cytokine responses, and innate immunity may contribute to the development of TB-IRIS.
    European Journal of Immunology 08/2013; 43(8):1995-2002. · 4.97 Impact Factor
  • Armin Deffur, Nicola J Mulder, Robert J Wilkinson
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    ABSTRACT: Tuberculosis is a devastating disease that accounts for a high proportion of infectious disease morbidity and mortality worldwide. HIV-1 co-infection exacerbates tuberculosis. Enhanced understanding of the host-pathogen relationship in HIV-1 and M. tuberculosis co-infection is required. While reductionist approaches have yielded many valuable insights into disease pathogenesis, systems approaches are required that develop data-driven models able to predict emergent properties of this complex co-infection system in order to develop novel therapeutic approaches and to improve diagnostics. Here we provide a pathogenesis-focused overview of HIV-TB coinfection followed by an introduction to systems approaches and concrete examples of how such approaches are useful. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Pathogens and disease. 07/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Distinct phylogenetic lineages of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) cause disease in patients of particular genetic ancestry, and elicit different patterns of cytokine and chemokine secretion when cultured with human macrophages in vitro. Circulating and antigen-stimulated concentrations of these inflammatory mediators might therefore be expected to vary significantly between tuberculosis patients of different ethnic origin. Studies to characterise such variation, and to determine whether it relates to host or bacillary factors, have not been conducted. We therefore compared circulating and antigen-stimulated concentrations of 43 inflammatory mediators and 14 haematological parameters (inflammatory profile) in 45 pulmonary tuberculosis patients of African ancestry vs. 83 patients of Eurasian ancestry in London, UK, and investigated the influence of bacillary and host genotype on these profiles. Despite having similar demographic and clinical characteristics, patients of differing ancestry exhibited distinct inflammatory profiles at presentation: those of African ancestry had lower neutrophil counts, lower serum concentrations of CCL2, CCL11 and vitamin D binding protein (DBP) but higher serum CCL5 concentrations and higher antigen-stimulated IL-1 receptor antagonist and IL-12 secretion. These differences associated with ethnic variation in host DBP genotype, but not with ethnic variation in MTB strain. Ethnic differences in inflammatory profile became more marked following initiation of antimicrobial therapy, and immunological correlates of speed of elimination of MTB from the sputum differed between patients of African vs. Eurasian ancestry. Our study demonstrates a hitherto unappreciated degree of ethnic heterogeneity in inflammatory profile in tuberculosis patients that associates primarily with ethnic variation in host, rather than bacillary, genotype. Candidate immunodiagnostics and immunological biomarkers of response to antimicrobial therapy should be derived and validated in tuberculosis patients of different ethnic origin.
    PLoS Pathogens 07/2013; 9(7):e1003468. · 8.14 Impact Factor
  • Tolu Oni, Kari Stoever, Robert J Wilkinson
    The lancet. Respiratory medicine. 07/2013; 1(5):356-8.

Publication Stats

5k Citations
1,240.00 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2005–2014
    • University of Cape Town
      • • Institute of Infectious Disease & Molecular Medicine (IIDMM)
      • • Department of Medicine
      • • Faculty of Health Sciences
      Kaapstad, Western Cape, South Africa
  • 2004–2014
    • Imperial College London
      • • Department of Medicine
      • • Centre for Molecular Microbiology and Infection
      • • Faculty of Medicine
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 2013
    • University of Minnesota Duluth
      • Medical School
      Duluth, Minnesota, United States
  • 2009–2013
    • MRC National Institute for Medical Research
      • • Division of Mycobacterial Research
      • • Division of Immunoregulation
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
    • Research Center Borstel
      • Division of Clinical Infectious Diseases
      Borstel, Lower Saxony, Germany
    • Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard
      Charlestown, Maryland, United States
  • 2012
    • Medical Research Council (UK)
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 2009–2012
    • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
      Maryland, United States
  • 2007–2011
    • Queen Mary, University of London
      • • Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry
      • • Institute of Health Sciences Education
      London, ENG, United Kingdom
    • Royal Melbourne Hospital
      Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    • Groote Schuur Hospital
      Kaapstad, Western Cape, South Africa
    • North West London Hospitals NHS Trust
      Harrow, England, United Kingdom
  • 2006
    • University of Melbourne
      • Department of Paediatrics
      Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • 1999
    • Case Western Reserve University
      • Division of Infectious Diseases and HIV Medicine
      Cleveland, OH, United States