Dr. Natella Rakhmanina’s career has taken her from Moscow, Russia to Little Rock, Arkansas to Columbus, Ohio to Washington, DC. She has studied pediatrics, toxicology, pharmacology and pharmacogenetics, but the common threads connecting her work has been a passion for the health of children and adolescents and HIV research. This passion has been evident in her pursuit to optimize HIV treatment for pediatric patients for nearly two decades in her clinical research, and respected voice for HIV pharmacology and care for children and adolescents. Today, Dr. Rakhmanina wears many hats: she is a Professor at the George Washington University’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences; Director of the Special Immunology Pediatric HIV Program as well as Director of HIV Services at Children’s National Hospital System (CNH) in Washington, DC; Senior Technical Advisor for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF); and noted member of advisory boards and executive committees across the District, nationally and globally.
Dr. Rakhmanina’s research portfolio extends from DC to Russia to African countries, with a strong focus on women, children and adolescents. As PI of the International Workshop on HIV and Women award and member of the organizing committee, she has contributed to a forum for researchers and experts to share their knowledge on the specific and unmet needs of women living with HIV. As a Co-I and Adolescent Lead for the NIH CFAR Ending the HIV Epidemic Supplement, A City-Wide Approach to HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Scale Up in Multiple High-Risk Communities in Washington DC, Dr. Rakhmanina works with Dr. Sarah Henn (PI) and colleagues to increase PrEP uptake among those most at risk of HIV acquisition. In her work with the EGPAF, Dr. Rakhmanina serves as a Technical Lead of the Red Carpet Program – an adolescent- and youth-specific comprehensive linkage to care and retention program in Kenya – and the New Horizons Advancing Pediatric HIV Care Collaborative – a partnership that aims to improve and expand pediatric HIV/AIDS treatment in sub-Saharan Africa.
Given the complexity of HIV and the numerous factors that influence treatment and care, Dr. Rakhmanina is prepared to “go after the whole disease”. She knows that treatments for pediatric patients with HIV – particularly treatments that are palatable for children – are just one crucial component of care. She notes that, if patients are unable to adhere to a treatment regimen, the treatment itself will be ineffective. Thus, her work emphasizes other critical themes including linkage to care, antiretroviral therapy adherence, and the development of robust HIV prevention tools for both children and mothers in the District and beyond.
As a member of the DC CFAR Executive Committee and the Institutional Representative for Children’s National Hopsital, Dr. Rakhmanina is committed to “carrying the voice of the children, adolescents, and young adults” throughout the DC CFAR’s work. She views her role as an opportunity to support the DC CFAR’s synergy with national HIV agendas and to promote cutting-edge research in the District worthy of national recognition. She believes the strength of the DC CFAR is in its strong partnerships and multi-institutional collaborations, particularly with the community. To Dr. Rakhmanina, these collaborations have been essential to the multi-faceted response that is needed to end the local HIV epidemic.