Dr Julia Roider, a medical doctor from Germany who is specialising in internal medicine, has joined K-RITH as a post-doctoral research fellow in Al Leslie’s lab for the next two years.

Roider graduated from medical school in 2009 and since then has been working at Munich university hospital.

She has a strong interest in infectious diseases research, and is a member of Professor Philip Goulder’s HIV Research Group at Oxford University – which focusses on understanding the role of T-cell immunity in successful long-term immune control of HIV infection. Goulder himself has a long-standing association with the Doris Duke Medical Research Institute and the UKZN HIV Pathogenesis Programme (HPP).

Roider explains that most of her Leslie Lab research projects will seek to characterise the HPP Paediatric Slow Progressor cohort. “These children have an immune system that doesn’t seem to be affected so much by HIV – which is unusual and worth studying, because normally children progress very fast to Aids without treatment. There are some children that seem to immunologically tolerate the infection quite well. We are trying to better understand what is going on with these children.”

Roider plans to complete her internal medicine training in Germany, and ultimately specialise in infectious diseases. She feels her clinical training will allow a unique take on her research – and vice versa.

“For a medical doctor, the nice thing is that we can do both – you can study things from different perspectives. You can go to the bench and do the research, and then on the other hand you are actually there, treating the patients. And it’s also nice having a change once in a while!”