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Associate Professor Catherine Orrell MBChB MMed MSc (Clin Pharmacol) PhD (Cape Town)

Desmond Tutu HIV Centre

Catherine OrrellProject Leader Treatment Division, Desmond Tutu HIV Centre, CRS leader for the Groote Schuur Clinical Research Site (UCT-CTU), Department of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, UCT, Full Member, Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM).

Catherine Orrell is a clinical pharmacologist and clinical trials specialist who has worked as principal and co-investigator in clinical research at the DTHF since 1998. The studies she has worked on include the DAIDS-funded CIPRA-SA studies and both SMART and START INSIGHT Network studies. She has been principal investigator on 15 clinical trials and sub-investigator on more than 30 trials of antiretroviral drugs, including a range of efficacy, toxicity, interaction and dosing studies. She is currently CRS leader of the Groote Schuur Clinical Research Site and the Gugulethu Research Offices.

Catherine is an experienced HIV clinician who played an integral role in developing a number of HIV care and treatment services in the Cape Town area. Over the past 20 years of work in the antiretroviral field, she has developed a deep interest in factors promoting the success of antiretroviral therapy when delivered in a resource poor setting to large numbers of people, including adherence, retention in care and task-shifting to other staff cadres. With the special interest in clinical pharmacology came the recognition that biological factors, such as drug absorption and metabolism, may also play a role in treatment success and resistance; this is the field which she explored for her PhD.

KEY EXPERTISE: Adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART), retention in HIV care and ART drug pharmacology and resistance.

Research projects:

  • META study: Examining HIV treatment adherence during early disease.

This BMGF funded project explores adherence in Cape Town and Uganda, of those who begin antiretroviral therapy while ill with HIV (CD4 <200) compared to those who are well (CD4>350), and between women who are pregnant and those who are not pregnant.

  • ADDART study: Use of ARV drug levels in DBS to assess and manage ART adherence in South Africa.

This NIH-funded project explores whether intra-cellular tenofovir diphosphate levels correlate with antiretroviral treatment success.

  • ACTG-NIDA award to explore the impact of objectively measured substance abuse on adherence and response to antiretroviral therapy in South African adults.

We plan to analyse plasma and hair samples prospectively collected from a recently completed randomised study on ART adherence for substances of abuse. Regression models will be used to determine whether there is an association between objective markers of substances of abuse in hair or plasma samples and cumulative adherence data.


Selected publications:

Orrell C, Cohen K, Mauff K, Bangsberg D, Maartens G, Wood R. A randomised controlled trial of real-time electronic adherence monitoring with text message dosing reminders in people starting first-line antiretroviral therapy. JAIDS (2015) June 24.

Orrell C, Kaplan R. Limited utility for dual therapy with boosted protease inhibitors and lamivudine in first-line. Lancet Infect Dis. (2015) Jul;15(7):748-9.

Orrell C, Felizarta F, Nell A, Kakuda TN, Lavreys L, Nijs S, Tambuyzer L, Van Solingen-Ristea R, Tomaka FL. Etravirine combined with Atazanavir/Ritonavir and a Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitor in antiretroviral treatment-experienced, HIV-1-infected patients. AIDS Res Treat. (2015) 2015:938628.

ENCORE1 Study Group. Efficacy of 400 mg efavirenz versus standard 600 mg dose in HIV-infected, antiretroviral-naive adults (ENCORE1): a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, non-inferiority trial. Lancet (2014) Feb 10; http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(13)62187-X.


Contact details:

The Desmond Tutu HIV Centre
Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine
Room N1.21.5, Wernher & Beit North
Faculty of Health Sciences
University of Cape Town
Observatory 7925
South Africa

Tel:  +27 21 406 6958
Fax: +27 21 650 6963
Email: Catherine.Orrell@hiv-research.org.za

Alternate sites:  www.desmondtutuhivcentre.org.za