Pioneers making a difference: the story of U of M HIV/AIDS researchers

May 7th, 2012 · No Comments · Advisory, Medicine, News, Outreach

On Tuesday, May 8, 2012, at 7:00 pm, McNally Robinson Booksellers will host the launch of a book with literary, scientific and historical significance?a book that tells the story of a group of University of Manitoba scientists trying to solve a medical mystery.

Piecing the Puzzle: The Genesis of AIDS Research in Africa is the latest work by noted Canadian historical documentarian and filmmaker Larry Krotz. In the book, Krotz weaves a tale worthy of the detective mystery genre as he relates how medical researchers on two continents have tried to unravel the puzzle that is HIV/AIDS.

The University of Manitoba is a world leader in many aspects of global population health, including the search for a vaccine against the spread of HIV/AIDS. The University of Manitoba has been recognized by the Bill and Melinda Gates Research Foundation for its work in Asia and Africa on preventing the spread of communicable disease.

In 1979, Dr. Allan Ronald, a specialist in infectious diseases from Canada, and Dr. Herbert Nsanze, head of medical microbiology at University of Nairobi, met through the World Health Organization. Ronald had just completed a successful project that cured a chancroid (genital ulcer) epidemic in Winnipeg and Nsanze asked him to come to Kenya to help with what was described as a “sexual diseases problem.” That initial invitation led to a groundbreaking international scientific collaboration that would uncover critical pieces in the complex puzzle that became today’s HIV/AIDS pandemic.

In Piecing the Puzzle, Krotz chronicles the fascinating history of the pioneering international team of Kenyan, Canadian, Belgian and American researchers that uncovered HIV/AIDS in Kenya. He describes their scientific breakthroughs and setbacks and their exceptional thirty-year relationship that began a new era of global health collaboration.

The book will be launched on Tuesday, May 8 at 7:00 pm, McNally Robinson Booksellers, in Grant Park. Krotz will be introduced by David Carr of University of Manitoba Press, as will Dr. Allan Ronald, a central figure in the book. Following short presentations, the will be a question and answer period. Wine will be served.

Krotz is an award-winning writer, filmmaker and author of six previous books, including The Uncertain Business of Doing Good: Outsiders in Africa. Over the past 25 years he has travelled to a number of African countries where he produced the documentary film, Searching for Hawa’s Secret, and wrote extensively for magazines and newspapers on scientific research and foreign aid projects.

Krotz has been part of Winnipeg’s rich literary community, with colleagues Carol Shields, Jake MacDonald, Dave Williamson, Don Bailey, Patrick Friesen and Charles Wilkins.  His first book was a collaboration with photographer John Paskievich, Waiting for the Ice Cream Man in 1976. In the 1980’s, Krotz was Manitoba correspondent for The Globe & Mail and has also written for Weekend magazine, Western Living, Quest, the United Church Observer, Canadian Geographic, Saturday Night, Equinox and Border Crossings.  His first solo documentary book, Urban Indians, was published in 1981, followed by a novel, Shutter Speed in 1987.

In the mid 1980’s Krotz turned to film and video and by 1987 his production company Karante developed Rising to Dance, a film about students at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School and South Indian Lake. It was aired on PBS, CBC and Bravo.

Distinguished U of M graduate and professor emeritus Allan Ronald is one of this country’s foremost physicians and microbiologists, who helped establish in Canada a clinical specialty in infectious diseases. In 2002, he retired from a distinguished 35-year career as a professor and medical researcher and then has helped develop a comprehensive HIV/AIDS Care and Prevention Program in Uganda. The successful launch of a drug distribution program has received worldwide media coverage.

In 2003, the Canadian Medical Association presented him with its highest honour, the F.N.G. Starr Award. In 2006 he received the Gairdner Foundation Wightman Award and was appointed as Scientific Director of the National Collaborating Centre on Infectious Diseases. Ronald is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and an Officer of the Order of Canada.

For more information, contact David Carr, director, University of Manitoba Press, at: 204-474-9242.

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