amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

CHIMERA LOGO

Capacity development in HIV and MEntal health Research in Asia (CHIMERA)

CHIMERA is a five-year (2019--2024) HIV, mental health, and implementation science research training program funded by the Fogarty International Center and the National Institute of Mental Health of the US NIH. CHIMERA aims to address the critical need to build capacity among Asia-Pacific clinicians and researchers to study the intersection between HIV and mental health.

chimera group photo

CHIMERA Fellows Class 1 (left to right): Wipaporn Natalie Songtaweesin (Thailand), Rena Janamnuaysook (Thailand), Pui Li Wong (Malaysia), Meng Li Chong (Malaysia), Maureen Dungca (Philippines), Nguav Bora (Cambodia), Timothy Dizon (Philippines), and Meng Somanythd Chhay (Cambodia).

 

Program Fellows
 

CAMBODIA

bora1Ngauv Bora (Class 1)

Dr. Bora is currently the Deputy Head of Technical Bureau, National Centre for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STD (NCHADS) where he has worked since 2004. He graduated in 1988 with a medical degree from the University of Health Science, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. He later received a Masters of Public Health focusing on Disease Control (Option Reproductive Health) in 2010 from the Antwerp Institute of Tropical Medicine, Belgium. He received a certificate from the Global Intensive Professional Program in HIV-Public Health Stream from the University of Sydney in 2014.  

 

MengSomanythd Chhaymeng  (Class 1)

Dr. Somanythd Chhaymeng received his medical degree from the University of Health Science, Cambodia. He obtained his Master degree in Public Health from the National Institute of Public Health, Cambodia. He is an expert in adult and pediatric HIV care and management, and spent 11 years in the Social Health Clinic of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STIs (NCHADS) and the National Pediatric Hospital, as well as being an investigator in clinical trial research, including with the Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Centre. He is a member of the Technical Working Group at NCHADS and trains clinicians on opportunistic infections.

 

Dr. Ouk Vichea (Class 2)

Dr. Ouk Vichea is a Deputy Director at the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STD (NCHADS) of the Ministry of Health of Cambodia. He is the Project Manager of the government’s HIV program grant from the Global Fund. He has worked in the field of HIV/AIDS for more than 18 years, during which he has been actively engaged in formulating HIV strategies and policies, and monitoring program implementation. He holds a Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of New South Wales, Australia. His main interests are to learn more about HIV and mental health, and applying this to develop operational research.  

 

MALAYSIA  

menglichongMeng Li Chong  (Class 1)

Meng Li Chong is a counselling psychologist in the Infectious Disease Unit of the University of Malaya Medical Center (UMMC), Malaysia, with a strong interest in HIV and mental health counselling. She believes that her dual role as a counselor & a researcher will provide valuable insights in developing holistic service delivery models for her patients. It is a privilege for her to walk with her clients through their journeys and make a positive and, hopefully, lasting impact.

 

 

pui liPui Li Wong (Class 1)

Dr. Pui Li Wong is currently an Infectious Diseases physician at the University of Malaya Medical Centre in Malaysia. Her interests are in improving the care and experiences of people living with HIV (PLHIV) in the clinical setting. She is also keen to understand the influence and impact of mental health and aging on PLHIV and how it affects their engagement into care.

 

 

 

 

kejalDr. Kejal Hasmukharay (Class 2)

Dr. Kejal Hasmukharay is a physician who is further sub-specializing in geriatric medicine at the University Malaya Medical Centre, Malaysia. Her special interests include understanding immuno-senescence and identifying pre-frailty and sarcopenia in the ageing population. In addition, she seeks to understand how to incorporate and utilize telemedicine/telehealth to maintain continuity of care and avoid the negative consequences from delayed preventive and routine care in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. She aims to study early identification of cognitive impairment in people living with HIV and formulate cognitive rehabilitation interventions to prevent further deterioration.

 

anjDr. Anjanna Kukreja (Class 2)

Dr. Anjanna Kukreja is an Infectious Diseases Physician at the University Malaya Medical Centre, Malaysia. She is trained in internal medicine, general infectious diseases, and antimicrobial stewardship, and is most passionate about HIV medicine. Her current research is focused on implementing a cervical cancer screening and prevention program into routine HIV clinic care, with an ultimate goal of implementation across HIV treatment services nationwide. Apart from her duties as a clinician, she is also actively involved with medical education and research, as well as community-based HIV outreach programs to underserved communities.

 

 

PHILIPPINES

MaureenAnna Maureen B. Dungca-Lorilla (Class 1)

Dr. Maureen Dungca-Lorilla is a medical doctor currently practicing as a primary HIV care physician at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, Philippines. She received her bachelors degree majoring in Biology at the University of Santo Tomas, and finished her medical school training at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, and her postgraduate training at Ospital ng Maynila Medical Center. Her training and practice include prescribing and monitoring antiretroviral drugs, treatment of opportunistic infections and other comorbidities, and counselling for people living with HIV and their families.

 

 

TimothyTimothy John R. Dizon (Class 1)

Dr. Tim Dizon is a medical doctor with special interests in clinical, molecular and health policy research. He is a graduate of the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health, which conferred on him the degrees of Doctor of Medicine and Master of Business Administration. Since passing the Medical Boards, he has been involved in various research projects with topics ranging from genetics to health policy. Currently working for the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, he is often involved in the creation of research protocols and management of ongoing projects. 

 

aripaAripa G. Alonto (Class 2)

Aripa G. Alonto is a Social Worker in the Medical Social Work Department at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Manila, Philippines. She is a graduate of the Mindanao State University – Marawi City. She previously worked as a Child Welfare and Community Worker in public and private agencies. She strongly believes that education is one of the most important ways to advocate for change. She seeks to advance understanding of research, policy development, family therapy, human behavior, and advocacy programs and services, and their impact on HIV and mental health.

 

karmiaKarmia Pakingan (Class 2)

Karmia Pakingan is a faculty member at the Psychology Department of De La Salle University, Philippines, and is a practicing clinical psychologist. She has previously worked on the mental health management of children, adolescents and young adults who are experiencing mood problems, anxiety, and behavioral issues. She obtained her MS in Psychology at De La Salle University, and is currently completing her PhD in Counseling Psychology at the same university. Her research interests include mental health of people living with HIV and environmental psychology.

 

THAILAND

ReenaRena Janamnuaysook (Class 1)

Rena Janamnuaysook is Program Manager for Transgender Health at the Institute of HIV Research and Innovation (IHRI), Bangkok, Thailand. She manages and provides technical guidance for the development and implementation of HIV and AIDS research and programs for transgender populations, ensuring effective systems and processes are in place to support high-quality research and programs to advance the work of the IHRI in serving vulnerable populations. Her previous roles include Project Management Specialist in HIV Key Populations for the United States Agency for International Development – Regional Development Mission for Asia, and HIV Policy Officer at Global Action for Trans Equality.

 

wipaWipaporn Natalie Songtaweesin (Class 1)

Dr. Natalie Songtaweesin is a pediatrician and clinical researcher at the Center of Excellence in Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Vaccines at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. Her main research interest is in HIV prevention in adolescent males who have sex with males, and transgender women in Thailand. She also cares for newly diagnosed adolescents and adolescents with perinatally acquired HIV. Due to the large interplay between mental health and HIV prevention in adolescents, she has developed an interest in conducting studies that address this aspect of providing care and improving overall service delivery to this key population in Thailand.

 

LindaDr. Linda Aurpibul (Class 2)

Dr. Linda Aurpibul is a pediatrician and clinical researcher at the Research Institute for Health Sciences, Chiang Mai University, in northern Thailand. Her research activities are in the field of prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission, and HIV treatment in children and adolescents. She also is interested in the interplay between psychosocial factors, resilience, mental health, and quality of life outcomes among people living with HIV in communities across the lifespan. As Thailand works towards ending AIDS, she sees the need for stronger multidisciplinary services, either delivered through “one-stop clinics” or efficient linkages between HIV care and other health services.

 

AkarinDr. Akarin Hiransuthikul (Class 2)

Dr. Akarin Hiransuthikul is a third-year neurology resident at the Department of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, and a research physician at the Institute of HIV Research and Innovation (IHRI), both in Bangkok, Thailand. He will complete his residency program in mid-2021 and will be appointed as a faculty member in the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Chulalongkorn University. He has a keen interest in neurocognition in adults and has been working extensively in the epidemiologic and clinical aspects of sexually transmitted infections and gender-affirming care among men who have sex with men and transgender populations.

 

PongkwanDr. Pongkwan Yimsaard (Class 2)

Dr. Pongkwan Yimsaard is a psychiatrist at the department of psychiatry, King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital. She received her medical degree from Chulalongkorn University and obtained her Master’s degree in Addiction Studies from King’s College London. She is interested in mental health and substance use disorder research. Since there are significant relationships between substance use disorders and HIV, she has developed an interest in conducting research that addresses substance use problems in high-risk key populations.

 

 

Program Mentors

CAMBODIA

lpsDr. Penh Sun Ly

Dr. Penh Sun Ly has led Cambodia’s HIV program for more than 10 years. He has been involved in policy and guideline development supporting the national HIV continuum of care since 2003, when most patients had limited access to care and support. He became the Director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STDs (NCHADS) in 2015. His areas of interest include HIV sentinel surveillance, behavioral surveillance, and STD prevalence, across both qualitative and quantitative aspects. Through collaborations with academic institutions in the USA and Australia, he conducted multiple clinical trials on HIV treatment and care.

 

MALAYSIA

Reena RajasuriarDr. Reena Rajasuriar

Dr. Reena Rajasuriar is an Associate Professor at the Department of Medicine, University of Malaya, and an adjunct Research Fellow at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, Melbourne University, Australia. She is also a post-doctoral scientist for the Centre of Excellence for Research in HIV/AIDS (CERiA) at the University of Malaya. Dr. Rajasuriar coordinates the translational research program in HIV immunology at CERiA and heads the Immunotherapeutics Laboratory at the University of Malaya. Her current research focuses on the clinical aspects and immunopathogenesis of accelerated aging and modulators of immune activation in HIV.

 

PHILIPPINES

rossana.jpgDr. Rossana A. Ditangco 

Dr. Rossana A. Ditangco is the head of the AIDS Research Group of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, Department of Health, the Philippines. She is currently the principal investigator for the Philippines site of the TREAT Asia network and IeDEA Asia-Pacific. She also was the principal investigator of the first HIV incidence study among MSM and the Project PrePPY pilot study on PrEP among MSM in the Philippines. She develops and implements demonstration projects on models of care for HIV and viral hepatitis prevention, diagnosis and treatment for the National AIDS and STI Prevention and Control Program.

 

Maria Dr. Maria Isabel Echanis Melgar

Dr. Maria Isabel Melgar is a retired faculty member in Psychology at the Ateneo de Manila University and a consulting clinical psychologist at the Ateneo Bulatao Center for Psychological Services. She also serves as a research preceptor at the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health. In 2018, she co-wrote a book, “Beyond DSM 5: A Casebook in Abnormal Psychology and Mental Health,” which was nominated for the National Book Award. Dr. Melgar is a project mental health consultant at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in the Philippines. She was elected President of the AIDS Society of the Philippines in 2021.

 

THAILAND

Nittaya       Dr. Nittaya Phanuphak

Dr. Nittaya Phanuphak is the Executive Director of the Institute of HIV Research and Innovation (IHRI) in Bangkok, Thailand. She has a deep interest in Key Population-Led Health Services (KPLHS). KPLHS approaches empower lay providers who are members of KP communities to perform HIV/STI testing and dispense PrEP/PEP, antiretroviral treatment and STI treatment to their peers. She currently works towards the establishment of national accreditation and domestic financing systems for lay providers to ensure KPLHS sustainability. She also oversees the KP-led PrEP program, HPTN 083, and HIV self-testing and PrEP projects for adolescent and youth men who have sex with men and transgender women.