We are posting today an interview with Francesca Incardona, Coordinator of CARE (Common Actions Against HIV/TB/HCV Across the Regions of Europe) and CEO of EuResist Network.
What is your role in the CARE project?
I coordinate the project and am responsible for its correct functioning, while also serving as a link between the project partners and the European Commission.
Also, I represent the EuResist Network which is one of the partners in this project and is involved in the study of HIV resistance.
What motivated you and your organisation to join CARE?
I was enthusiastic about the project idea when I first heard about it from Anders Sönnerborg. The idea to partner with the other established research groups in Europe, Russia and Eastern Europe was fascinating, because that is where important questions need to be answered and scientific collaboration can make the difference. On top of it, the possibility to partner with researchers working on TB was thrilling because we believe that the bioinformatic component developed to tackle HIV resistance, could be adopted for TB resistance.
Could you tell us more about the activities in CARE that you are involved in?
Further to project coordination, an important part of my job relates to the management of the infrastructure of the project together with CHIP in Copenhagen, that is not directly research but is crucial for the functioning of the CARE Consortium. It involves setting up the data managing infrastructure that has a vast focus on many aspects of the HIV, TB and HCV epidemics (e.g. resistance, but not only).
Furthermore, we are involved in the research in WP4 that aims to characterize HIV epidemics in the Eastern Region of Europe and Russia. The EuResist database (EIDB) is adopted to collect the data for the HIV drug resistance study in CARE East as well as for molecular epidemiology studies. We will focus on dolutegravir-based treatment, whose introduction is recommended by the World Health Organisation and on the A subtype and A6 sub-subtype, rare in Western countries but common in Russia.
Why is it important to study these issues in your opinion?
The subtype distribution in Russia and Eastern Europe is different from that of Western countries and is much less studied, so it is crucial to develop the instruments to monitor and analyse in clinical practice the scale up of new treatments in this region.
More in general, a large dataset of European and Eastern European HIV resistance information from clinical practice is an infrastructure that will remain an invaluable source for research studies.
What are your expectations from the project and the collaboration within it?
I have great expectations.
In terms of partnership, we created a strong consortium and we are developing a solid infrastructure. We have spent now several months on obtaining permissions for data and sample sharing protocols. This stays of relevance for the development of science: the possibility not only to interact but to share data and samples on which to create knowledge.
CARE is a really strong project with many specific objectives, including the development of bioinformatic tools, lab tools and procedures, identification of biomarkers... It will provide important advancements in the clinical care of HIV, TB and important guidelines for the treatment of HCV.
How do you plan to implement project results in the future?
Together with the other partners our interest is to keep the CARE Consortium up and running. We have spent so much effort to create a research framework, it means we really want to work with it afterwards. The idea is to continue to work on the CARE partnership as an entity.