Pholo Maenetje (PhD) was initially trained as a medical scientist at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) focusing on understanding the role of CD4+ and CD8+ T cell memory differentiation, functional profiles and the effect of immune activation during early HIV-1 infection. He is currently a Programme Manager overseeing Basic Science and Special Projects at the Aurum Institute. He is currently overseeing two observational studies funded by International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI): one measuring the annual HIV incidence and the risk factors associated with HIV infection in the Rustenburg community, and the other aimed at evaluating the clinical, laboratory, immunologic and viral markers of disease progression in volunteers with recent HIV infection. He is also a principal recipient of a Strategic Health Innovation Partnerships (SHIP) unit of the South African Medical Research Council (MRC) grant which aims to understand the role of CD4 and CD8 αβ T cells and γ9δ2 T cells in protective TB immunity.
For the collaboration, Dr Maenetje will lead the evaluation of αβ and γ9δ2 T cell responses in protecting against TB infection among household TB contacts. Churchyard in partnership with Charalambous, Wallis and Maenetje will lead a study evaluating epidemiological and transcriptomic factors associated with a highly TB exposed, persistently negative phenotype in miners. Understanding how HIV alters TB immunity in the lung it is particularly important because immune cells in the lungs are the front-line defence against TB. These cells represent ideal targets of novel vaccination strategies.