Smita Nimkar

Smita Nimkar

Smita Nimkar
BJ Medical College–Johns Hopkins University Clinical Research Site

Smita Nimkar is a lead research coordinator on IeDEA Asia-Pacific studies at BJ Medical College in Pune, India. In that role, she is a co-investigator in the IeDEA Sentinel Research Network study as well. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in health and biomedical sciences at the Symbiosis International University in Pune. Her own research includes HIV-related comorbidities, treatment outcomes, and mental health among children, adolescents, and adults. In the future, she wants to study implementing HIV and TB prevention and mental health screening strategies in public health settings. Her FIMP analysis will focus on the long-term antiretroviral treatment outcomes in children and adolescents in the TREAT Asia network.

With the availability of combination antiretroviral therapy, HIV has become a manageable disease and now it is like a chronic condition. Children are surviving longer with access to diagnosis, treatment, and care. But very limited data are available on their long-term outcomes. For the past 15 years, the TREAT Asia Pediatric HIV Observational Database has collected data across the Asia region and gives us an opportunity to understand survival after long-term treatment in children with HIV and risk factors associated with loss to follow-up.

With my current research, I am studying the treatment outcomes of children and adolescents who have been on HIV treatment for at least five years. Do they have a better chance of surviving and of staying in care? What are the risk factors for death and loss to follow-up?

In the early phase of the program, I learned how to prepare and analyze longitudinal data and interpret the findings of my work.  I learned how to use Stata [a statistical software for data science] and write code. I realized that with good data one can do better research.

Then the next phase was manuscript writing, including the opportunity for in-person training at the Kirby Institute in Sydney. This was an excellent experience to learn from a dedicated, passionate, and encouraging mentor who is knowledgeable and can provide very good critiques of your work. The most important thing I learned in the training is that one must be very thoughtful and precise while writing every word, every number, and every sentence in order to prepare a clear and accurate manuscript. It also gave me insights into how to showcase the data in a presentable manner (neat and clean tables and figures). What I learned is very important not only to publish my research but also to become a more competent researcher.

I wish to use these skills to do more research related to infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, TB, and others as public health problems in India.

I still have much more to learn, but this journey as a FIMP trainee gave me an opportunity to enhance my skills, boosted my confidence, and paved a path to become a better researcher.