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HIV Vaccine Development: A Story of Dedication

Development of HIV vaccines remains a top priority across clinical operations teams with PPD. Learn more about how PPD’s clinical research associates (CRAs) and their leadership are working toward creating these important therapies.

As we honor HIV Vaccine Awareness Day (also recognized as World AIDS Vaccine Day) at PPD, we would like to highlight members of the clinical operations team working in HIV vaccine trials and share their insights to the meaningful support they provide.

Cynthia Mendes is a clinical research associate (CRA) in Johannesburg, South Africa, who joined PPD in November 2019 is regularly involved in HIV vaccine trials. Cynthia says, “With South Africa’s high incidence of HIV-affected people, I feel working on these trials is a great opportunity to have a great impact on improving the health of not only my country, but the world, should we find a vaccine that works.” Cynthia’s mentality and dedication to improving the health of the world aligns with PPD’s mission. Cynthia advocates that, “CRAs interested in working on vaccine trials should gain knowledge and experience in immunology, as this is an important part of how vaccines work.”

Lidia Barata, senior CRA, spent more than eight years in Germany, USA and France working in academia before realizing she missed the clinical aspect of the business. From there, she decided to transition to a CRA career path that led her to becoming a CRA with PPD’s France team and then later with the Portugal team. While Lidia is now operating out of Portugal, she is also focused on work in Mozambique. Her typical day involves monitoring study subject records to ensure study procedures are performed according to protocol and subject safety. “No two days are the same,” Lidia adds.

When asked about how her work contributes to the greater good, Lidia said, “I am proud to contribute a little piece in a huge puzzle that will ultimately bring a new reliable vaccine for HIV to the market. What really inspires me is having the opportunity to help make this world a better place for so many people, which embodies PPD’s mission of delivering life-changing therapies.” Lidia enjoys the opportunity to work with lots of different people from varying backgrounds. Vaccine development is truly a global effort that requires streamlined communication and hardworking people. Lidia offers encouragement for those continuing to work toward a vaccine, “We have come a long way since HIV first emerged. Please keep up the great work and courage!”

Thabo Thulare, clinical team manager (CTM) with government and public health services (GPHS), Johannesburg, South Africa, shares, “Working on vaccine development projects brings a much fulfilling sense, knowing that one is contributing in the process of bringing improved health to the world. It requires high levels of dedication, passion and selflessness. Once the vaccines we are researching are found to be working and approved, I have no doubt that it will be an even more gratifying feeling, knowing one has contributed positively to humanity.”

Elandre Kok, a CRA II who is also a part of our GPHS team based in Johannesburg, says, “The projects undertaken in our group certainly have the ability to make a lasting impact as sub-Saharan Africa has been hard hit by HIV and AIDS, so the more we learn and know, the better we are poised at helping to curb the spread of the virus and taking strides toward an HIV-free generation. The prospect of a vaccine that can successfully protect a person against HIV infection will be the ultimate ‘weapon’ in our battle against the virus. It is literally history in the making with the chance of making a significant, lasting impact in the world.”

Clinical operations teams at PPD, including HIV vaccine development, embody our defining principle: We are one PPD. Their dedication and commitment to our mission to improve health moves us that much closer to finding effective vaccines for all.

To learn more about PPD’s clinical monitoring and clinical team management career opportunities, visit ww.ppd.com for a listing of current openings across the globe.