In 1988, a unique research collaboration was started with a meeting at the Makerere University Medical School between Uganda clinicians and USA researchers working in the field of perinatal HIV infection. The two groups of investigators agreed on the importance of answering questions on mother- to-child transmission of the HIV virus during a time when the HIV/AIDS pandemic was spreading rapidly in Uganda. Each of the two respective groups of investigators, at Makerere University and the U.S. university sites, brought unique and diverse strengths to planning the collaborative research. The Makerere University clinicians working at Mulago Hospital were seeing increasing numbers of patients with AIDS (“slim disease”), including infected pregnant women and babies; and the U.S. university investigators brought external funding, laboratory technology and other research endowments to help support the planned research activities.
The early meetings continued and these leading investigators in the area of perinatal HIV research from Johns Hopkins (Dr. Brooks Jackson and Dr. Laura Guay) and Makerere U. Medical Schools (Prof. Francis Mmiro and Prof. Christopher Magala Nduggwa) established a joint comprehensive Mother–Child HIV Research Centre based at Mulago Hospital, the National referral hospital, in Kampala Uganda.
The aim of the research centre was to develop and coordinate HIV perinatal epidemiologic studies addressing;
- Risk factors for transmission
- The effects of HIV on pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes as well as the effect of pregnancy on HIV disease progression;
- The natural history of HIV/AIDS disease progression among infected
- mothers and their infants; and
- Intervention clinical trials to reduce the risk of perinatal transmission.
Since 1996, this has formally been called the Makerere University. –Johns Hopkins University. (MU-JHU) Research Collaboration after the US investigators moved from Case Western University to Johns Hopkins University.
The infrastructure for the clinical trials included recruitment from Mulago Hospital. Initially the MU-JHU research staffs were housed in one of the wards (Ward 11) of the Makerere U. Obstetrical Department. In 2000, MU-JHU opened its first building, MUJHU 1, on the Mulago hospital campus, and in 2005 a second building followed equipped with conference facilities, offices and more clinic space to for the ongoing clinical trials and later MU-JHU 3 with more conference facilities, offices and more clinic space which now houses a state of the art youth friendly clinic and youth offices for the Young Generation Alive program.