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SEARCH is a partnership that began in 2005 with a goal of accomplishing mutual objectives in HIV/AIDS research and training in the South East Asia region among three partners: the Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Centre (TRCARC) and HIV-NAT in Bangkok, the Hawaii Center for AIDS of the John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii (UH) at Manoa in Honolulu, and the Armed Forces Medical Sciences (AFRIMS) in Bangkok.

SEARCH conducts its activities in Thailand under the TRCARC with close guidance from three co-directors: Professor Praphan Phanuphak (TRCARC), Professor Cecilia Shikuma (UH), and Col. Associate Professor Jerome Kim (AFRIMS). SEARCH is headed by Dr. Jintanat Ananworanich with Dr. Nittaya Phanuphak occupying the role of Deputy Chief.

SEARCH has two main expertise and interest

Serving as coordinating center for HIV/AIDS and related infectious diseases research, both clinical and basic science

With the expertise and experience of SEARCH personnel and partners in performing HIV/AIDS clinical studies, both in Thailand and in other countries, SEARCH serves as a coordinating center for studies by developing protocols, identifying suitable collaborating sites, providing training for site staff, submitting studies to relevant regulatory bodies, managing and monitoring the study, and performing statistical analysis and reporting of study results.

SEARCH is interested in various aspects of HIV/AIDS and related infectious diseases. Within the short period since its inception, SEARCH has been involved in the following areas of studies.

Neuro AIDS
The University of California at San Francisco offers expertise in neuroAIDS, and particular interest is in HIV dementia. Three studies are ongoing, the first study is to determine the long-term relationship between cognition and HIV DNA in circulating monocytes and define the longitudinal relationships between HIV DNA in monocytes and cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers and MRS findings, the second is to establish normative neuropsychological parameters in HIV negative Thais and the third is focuses on the role of cellular immune responses in HIV dementia (HAD) versus non-HAD individuals in a cognitively characterized cohort.

Metabolic Toxicity
Particular interests are mitochondrial, cardiovascular and metabolic complications from HAART, especially in the aging population. The University of Hawaii offers expertise in identifying mitochondrial toxicity at a cellular level A study with the TRCARC and Queen Savang Vadhana Memorial Hospital in collaboration with University of Hawaii to evaluate different strategies of using NRTIs in combination with NNRTIs as first line regimens to limit hematologic, mitochondrial and neurologic complications is being reviewed by funding agencies. This study will have high impact on the first line treatment strategies for developing countries.

HIV Immunology and Virology, and Vaccine Development
SEARCH is working closely with the Anonymous clinic of the TRCARC to establish an acute seroconverter cohort. A study is ongoing to assess mucosal immunity and dual HIV infections in acute seroconverter cohort, as well as possible interventions to slow HIV disease progression. Also in the planning stages are studies to evaluate dual HIV infections and resistance in high risk cohorts at the Anonymous clinic which will have impact on vaccine development for Thais. AFRIMS brings expertise to SEARCH in immunologic, virologic and vaccine studies.

Sexual Health in Women and Men
SEARCH is interested in the issues of female and male sexual health, particularly contraceptions, microbicides, sexually transmitted diseases, human papilloma virus infection, and cervical and anal cancers. SEARCH is working closely with the Anonymous clinic at the TRCARC in developing standard sexual health care programs for persons with HIV infection.

Opportunistic and Co-infections
SEARCH is collaborating with Columbia University, HIV-NAT, and Bamrasnaradura Institute in developing a protocol to evaluate immune markers in predicting immune reconstitution syndrome in HIV and TB co-infected patients treated with antiretrovirals. SEARCH is also working with U.S. Military HIV Research Program (MHRP) in conducting a study to characterize IRIS and investigate the pathogenesis and the outcomes of IRIS.

Pediatric HIV Treatment and Care
SEARCH currently renders advice to partner and other organizations in developing and conducting studies in children with HIV, especially on neuropsychologic, immunologic and antiretrovirals issues, as well as provides consultation on clinical case management. Moreover, SEARCH provides service to the World Health Organization in creating a pediatric antiretroviral treatment clinical manual for clinicians in the South East Asia region.

Serving as a training center for HIV/AIDS, both adults and pediatrics

SEARCH coordinates training upon request centred around themes including basic and advanced HIV medicine and second line antiretroviral therapy for adults and children.  SEARCH has coordinated training for PEPFAR Vietnam, WHO India, UNICEF China, Health [e] Foundation and amfAR TREAT Asia.  In 2011, SEARCH provides four training courses on the topic of “Psychosocial Training to Enhance Treatment Success for Children and Adolescents”, supported by the GILEAD foundation and TREAT Asia. 

Through the research studies mentioned previously, SEARCH provides training to research staff at collaborating sites on good clinical practice, research protocols/standard operating procedures/manual operating procedures, as well as offers specialized training through our partner organizations, including neuropsychological testing, neurologic examinations, colposcopy and anoscopy, and methods of advanced immunologic and virologic laboratory testing.


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