Research Project: Coinfection with herpesviruses in the antiretroviral therapy era: influence on comorbidities and inflammation

 Year(s): 2021–23

Dr. Léna Royston developed a keen interest in virology during her medical studies at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, where she completed two undergraduate fellowships in global health and HIV in Nepal and Cameroon. After earning a PhD degree in fundamental virology, she completed a clinical training in internal medicine in Geneva and soon became chief resident, performing clinical rotations in the infectious diseases and hematology departments. She then started a second specialization training in infectious diseases and gained more experience in clinical and translation virology research projects through a postdoctoral fellowship at McGill University Health Centre.

In Canada, the seroprevalence of cytomegalovirus (CMV) is 84% in people living with HIV, compared with 50% in the general population, and is associated with immune dysfunction. Another member of the herpesvirus family, human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8), is also more prevalent among people living with HIV, especially men who have sex with men, and is causing a re-emergence of Kaposi sarcoma in this population. During her time as a CTN Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. Royston will conduct a project to understand and address the impact of both CMV and HHV-8 co-infections in people living with HIV who are on antiretroviral therapy.

Dr. Royston has been first author on six papers and co-author on an additional two papers. She has been the recipient of several awards including an award from the Fondation Arditi, Geneva, for the best MD-PhD thesis of the University of Geneva, and an award from the Vasco Sanz Fund, Geneva, for a research project that she conducted in critically ill patients with COVID-19. Her fellowship supervisor will be Dr. Jean-Pierre Routy.