Miss Isabella Ferreira (2019)
I grew up in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, the epicenter of the HIV epidemic. This greatly influenced my research interests. I pursued an undergraduate at the University of Cape Town, majoring in genetics and psychology, which gave me the ground tools to understand both the basic science research and the human side of HIV infection. During my Master’s degree at the Africa Health Research Institute in Durban, I have been identifying the cellular HIV reservoir in lymph nodes from antiretroviral suppressed individuals. Whilst pursuing a PhD in Medicine at Cambridge, I will seek to understand how different cell types that make up the cellular HIV reservoir interact and become permissive to HIV infection. By understanding these interactions, I will be able to identify key pathways that can be manipulated therapeutically to reduce or eradicate the HIV reservoir, allowing for a functional cure. Achieving a functional cure is of immense importance as we currently do not have a cure and it is unsustainable for individuals living with HIV to take daily medication for the rest of their lives, especially in the developing world, where access to medication may be limited. I am honoured to be a part of the Gates Cambridge community and look forward to working and collaborating with like-minded scholars who are committed to improving the lives of others.