Laboratory Scientist, HIV Labs
Country : Democratic Republic of Congo
City : La Gombé, Kinshasa
Type : Full Time
Business Unit : HIV Labs
Founded in 2002 by President William J. Clinton, the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) is a global health organization committed to strengthening integrated health systems around the world and expanding access to care and treatment for HIV/AIDS, malaria and other illnesses. Based on the premise that business oriented strategy can facilitate solutions to global health challenges, CHAI acts as a catalyst to mobilize new resources and optimize the impact of these resources to save lives, via improved organization of commodity markets and more effective local management. By working in association with governments and other NGO partners, CHAI is focused on large scale impact and, to date, CHAI has secured lower pricing agreements for treatment options in more than 70 countries. In addition, CHAI's teams are working side-by-side with over 30 governments to tackle many of the largest barriers to effective treatment and care.
With the establishment of the ambitious 2020 “90-90-90” treatment targets, there is a renewed focus on initiating HIV-infected people onto ART as soon as possible, and ensuring they remain on effective treatment to achieve viral suppression – both of which require better access to Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) and Viral Load (VL) testing. However, access to effective EID and VL testing is hampered, as the market for both tests has historically been dominated by complex, laboratory-based technologies, which are unable to meet the entire testing need in resource-limited settings. These technologies require high capital investment, sophisticated laboratory infrastructure and highly trained technicians that are not available in many settings, and have limited geographic reach. As a result, most patients do not have access to testing on-site where they receive care, instead relying on transportation of samples to and results from centralized laboratories to provide access to testing. Although these conventional, laboratory-based technologies have formed the backbone for national testing programs and have provided testing to many patients, implementation has been hampered by system challenges in establishing effective sample transportation networks, transmitting test results to patients, and optimizing laboratory workflows.
The goal of this project is to speed clinical decision-making by reducing test turn-around time for EID and VL testing. This will enable earlier treatment initiation for HIV-positive infants, earlier interventions for patients with poor treatment adherence, and timelier switching of patients onto more effective second-line regimens in the case of first-line treatment failure. To reach this goal, the project will increase the proportion of EID and VL results that are returned to patients through the scale-up of point of care (POC) products as well as the strengthening of existing conventional HIV diagnostics programs.
The project will work to ensure that high-quality routine POC EID and VL testing is established, and conventional EID and VL systems are strengthened. Specifically, to facilitate the selection of new POC EID and VL technologies based on DRC needs and context, assist DRC in the adoption of recent WHO Guideline recommendations, and support national scale-up of POC testing by establishing necessary systems and processes to ensure result delivery and linkage to care, as well as address gaps in conventional testing systems by improving sample transportation networks, data management, laboratory workflow, and quality assurance programs.
CHAI is seeking a talented, highly motivated, and flexible Laboratory Scientist to support the development, expansion, and improvement of laboratory systems for point of care testing for EID and viral load in DRC. The Laboratory Scientist will be based in Kinshasa and will work closely with the Ministry of Public Health (MoH), the National AIDS Control Program (PNLS), UNICEF, reference laboratories, and other stakeholders. This position will support the technical and clinical side in an initial scoping exercise and ensure that the country has reached certain diagnostics milestones prior to the expansion of the POC EID and HIV Viral Load programs. He/She will support the technical review, evaluation, and acceleration of the adoption of new and innovative laboratory technologies/assays to streamline the results delivery for the EID program and VL testing. Furthermore, he/she will provide promote sustainable solutions for equipment service and maintenance challenges, and provide technical expertise to troubleshoot diagnostics issues.
This position requires a highly motivated individual with outstanding laboratory experience and skills. The Laboratory Scientist is required to work with government officials and partners, particularly laboratory technicians and clinicians, have excellent communication skills, and forge strong relationships with the PNLS/MoH, UNICEF, and other government agencies and partners. S/he must be able to work independently with limited supervision. The Laboratory Scientist will work as part of the CHAI-DRC team and will report to the HIV Labs Program Manager.
Support the Program Manager with technical laboratory expertise in scoping to plan out detailed activities over the next 4 years and identify intervention areas for POC pilots and scale-ups, especially around the design of SOPs and QA systems.
Work with the MoH/PNLS and reference labs to review, evaluate and ensure that the program (sample transport network, sites communication, result reporting system, assay quality etc.) is running effectively
Provide technical support and promote routine reporting and analysis of laboratory data for routine M&E (EID, VL testing)
Provide the technical expertise to the reference labs and other laboratories, when applicable, to continue to improve all the quality assurance programs related to HIV testing services
Support the technical and clinical side of the creation of effective and sustainable training programs, quality assurance and, data management to support accelerated roll-out for MoH/PNLS on POC and lab systems strengthening related issues (sample transport, technology selection)
In collaboration with the Program Manager, generate evidence conforming to rigorous standards based on best practices for POC implementation and scale-up
Any other tasks assigned by the Program Manager
Master’s Degree, specialization in laboratory sciences
A minimum of 4 years’ professional work experience
Lab and diagnostics-related experience in a clinical setting in either microbiology, molecular diagnostics, flow cytometry (CD4 testing), Hematology, Chemistry
Knowledge of workflow related to EID, CD4, Viral Load, POC, an understanding of the clinical underpinnings of these programs, and their respective technology platforms and reagents
Ability to navigate government processes with multiple stakeholders
Technical proficiency with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
Ability to solve challenging problems without extensive structural or operational support
Able to adapt to fast-paced and changing environments, both internally and externally
Fluent in English and French, proficiency in both written and verbal
Previous work experience in sub-Saharan Africa
Experience working in laboratories in DRC
Experience work on research studies, including protocol development