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Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard University

Phyllis Kanki, DVM, DSc has been Professor of Immunology and Infectious Disease at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health since 1999. Her research centers on the virology, pathogenesis and molecular epidemiology of HIV in Africa. Based on long term research collaborations in Senegal for over 24 years, her work provided the initial characterization of HIV-2, demonstrated reduced virulence, transmission and progression to disease and interactions with HIV-1 subtypes from West Africa.

In 2000, Dr. Kanki created and directed the AIDS Prevention Initiative in Nigeria (APIN), with a $25 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This provided the collaborative foundation for the Harvard President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) providing prevention, care and HIV antiretroviral therapy in Nigeria, Botswana, and Tanzania (2004-2012). To date, in addition to the capacity building for clinical, laboratory and research capabilities, the program has provided treatment for over 150,000 AIDS patients. She and her colleagues have conducted operational research on the efficacy of ART and prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) interventions and modulators of this response, HIV diversity and drug resistance, ART adherence and HIV co-infections including tuberculosis and hepatitis infections. The University of Ibadan, Nigeria received a Medical Education Partnership award from the Fogarty International Center in 2010, and Dr. Kanki leads the Harvard component of this consortium effort to promote research capacity at partner medical schools. In 2015, three new Medical Education Partnership awards were given to the University of Jos, Ibadan and Lagos; Harvard is a collaborative partner in all three of these new research capacity programs. In 2014, in response to the West African Ebola epidemic, Dr. Kanki collaborated with the University of Lagos to develop a novel T cell assay for Ebola fusion proteins, and is currently doing the same for Dengue and Zika viruses.


  • 1999–2017
    Professor, Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health


Institute of Medicine, Honorary DSc. University of Ibadan