Shalena Naidoo

Shalena Naidoo’s doctoral research conducted at the Division of Medical Virology at Stellenbosch University focused on providing “A Longitudinal Perspective on the Impact of Immune Status on the HIV-1 Latent Reservoir and Neurocognitive Outcomes in Virologically Suppressed Children”. Her research aimed to provide key insights into immunological mechanisms that drive HIV persistence and neurodevelopmental outcomes as well as delineate immune biomarkers that may serve as snapshots to HIV-1 pathogenesis in perinatally infected children approaching adolescence.

Shalena’s doctoral research has been presented on both national and international platforms and has received two prestigious awards one of which was presented by Françoise Barré-Sinoussi - the Nobel Prize Winner and Discover of the HI virus at the International AIDS 2018 Conference held in Amsterdam. This award was presented for her research on myeloid cell-associated inflammation in pre-adolescent HIV infected children initiated on early and suppressive antiretroviral therapy.

During her PhD, Shalena has undertaken advanced training at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania where she developed experience in isolating and quantifying the HIV-1 latent reservoir in infected children and contributed to developing a molecular single copy assay for the quantification of HIV-1 RNA in cell culture supernatants. Shalena has since transitioned into postdoctoral research within the Division of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Cape Town where she is investigating the role of human milk composition and biomolecules that shape gut integrity and brain development - the “gut-brain axis” in HIV-exposed uninfected infants in South Africa