Brooks Ikaikaokekai Mitchell

A University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa researcher is investigating why people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are living longer with antiretroviral treatment yet experiencing more chronic complications as they age. Brooks Ikaikaokekai Mitchell was awarded the 2018 Koenig Foundation Award in Medicine by the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists Foundation Honolulu Chapter.

Mitchell, a PhD candidate at UH Mānoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM), received the award that includes a $5,000 prize on May 7.

At JABSOM, Mitchell is part of a team at the Hawaiʻi Center for AIDS that is examining why those with HIV suffer earlier from diseases related to aging than those who are not infected with HIV.

HIV has been around for decades, but there is still a lot of work to be done,” said Mitchell. “This recognition of the work that our group is doing is an honor.”

About his research

“One of the projects that I’ve been working on is looking at lymph node fibrosis,” said Mitchell. “We excised the lymph nodes from 10 volunteers and conducted various immunoassays to understand the immunological mechanisms that may be driving fibrosis within these tissues.”

Fibrosis is not normal and interferes with the functionality of the tissue, Mitchell explains.

“Lymph nodes are important in the immune response, so when you have a lot of collagen deposits—which is the definition of fibrosis—occurring within these tissues, it interferes with normal immune processes that may result in persistent inflammation,” he said. “It may be a reason why we see a lot of chronic complications within our (HIV) patients.”

See the full story on the JABSOM website.

—By Tina Shelton