The BC Centre of Excellence elects Dr. Zabrina Brumme as director of the HIV laboratory program

Dr. Zabrina Brumme (Photo Credit: SFU)

The BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) elects Dr. Zabrina Brumme as director of Canada’s leading HIV laboratory program. Dr. Brumme will be on secondment from her position as associate professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University (SFU), where she additionally holds a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar award.

“The BC-CfE continues to lead progress in HIV research in BC and around the world, in a bid to eliminate this global epidemic through Treatment as Prevention®, while expanding its research in other infectious diseases like hepatitis C,” says Dr. Julio Montaner, director of the BC-CfE. “Dr. Brumme shares this commitment and is well positioned to lead and expand the BC-CfE’s Laboratory Program, bringing highly specialized knowledge, coupled with remarkable leadership as a mentor to other researchers.”

Under Dr. Brumme’s leadership, the BC-CfE Laboratory Program will continue to investigate HIV at a molecular level, contributing to advancing personalized medicine, phylogenetics, vaccine and cure research. The BC-CfE Laboratory Program was the first in the world to offer routine HIV drug resistance testing for people diagnosed with HIV, helping to tailor treatment and improve health outcomes. As a cutting-edge institution, the BC-CfE lab uses phylogenetics, the mapping of HIV genome data, to identify HIV transmission patterns or clusters.

“The Faculty of Health Sciences is fully supportive of Dr. Brumme’s secondment as Laboratory Director, which recognizes the excellence of her HIV and immunology research,” says Dr. Tania Bubela, SFU professor and dean, Faculty of Health Sciences. “Dr. Brumme’s career progression and leadership is an inspiration for our students, and we look forward to strengthening our research and training partnerships with the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.”

Dr. Brumme led unparalleled research showing HIV strains being transmitted widely in Saskatchewan had mutated, potentially leading to faster progression to AIDS-defining illnesses. The BC-CfE is expanding this knowledge to other infectious diseases like hepatitis C.

“Dr. Brumme has studied HIV through the lens of a molecular biologist and epidemiologist,” says Dr. Robert Hogg, professor, SFU Faculty of Health Sciences and research scientist at BC-CfE. “She has dedicated her career to understanding how HIV can adapt and evolve within populations. This information is critical to advance research towards designing an effective HIV vaccine or cure with the potential of eliminating the disease.”

“The BC-CfE has generated an impressive pool of talent and world-class expertise, ensuring it will continue to lead the way not just in HIV research, but also in viral hepatitis and other infectious diseases,” says Dr. Brumme. “I am excited to be part of a very hard-working and innovative scientific team supporting research with a global impact. The BC-CfE has set a clear path forward for HIV control through the Treatment as Prevention® strategy. I look forward to further supporting these efforts, as well as expanding the BC-CfE’s research effort to develop an HIV cure and an effective vaccine.”

Dr. Zabrina Brumme received her Ph.D. in Experimental Medicine in 2006 from the University of British Columbia.  She then went on to complete a post-doctoral fellowship at the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT and Harvard University (formerly known as the Partners AIDS Research Center). She joined SFU FHS as assistant professor, Molecular Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases, in September 2009.

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