Dr Warrier’s interest in global health in resource limited settings comes from a childhood living in India and in Zambia. The effects of illnesses such as malaria, tuberculosis, AIDS, and more recently, dengue and chikungunya in these settings is devastating, especially to the economically disadvantaged in society. I resolved to train as a scientist in order to promote research, education, and service in resource limited settings. As an undergraduate at Louisiana Tech University, I engaged in research on schistosomiasis with Dr. James Liberatos.
During his predoctoral training at Purdue University, he studied the mosquito borne viruses Sindbis and Yellow Fever, that are in the same families as Chikungunya and Dengue, respectively. He also assisted in teaching undergraduates to gain experience in imparting education. In order to translate his training into improving global health in resource-limited settings, He accepted a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Jeffrey Stringer at the University of Alabama in Birmingham and was based in Lusaka, Zambia. During this time, he set up a sequencing facility, designed an HIV-1 drug resistance genotyping test that reduced assay costs ten-fold, and improved laboratory turnaround time for HIV viral load testing and infant virologic testing from months to days. He did research into HIV drug resistance patterns in Zambian patients who failed first line antiretroviral therapy. Additionally, He mentored a lab technician and served as an external thesis advisor for his Masters of Science degree from Stellenbosch University in South Africa. Thus, he was directly involved in research, service, and education in Zambia. In order to broaden his understanding of HIV research, he then accepted a position with Dr. George Shaw at the University of Alabama in Birmingham to work on molecular pathogenesis of SIV and HIV. His laboratory then moved to the University of Pennsylvania, and during his time in this lab he has conducted research into HIV vaccine trials in non-human primates, as well as identifying novel HIV-1 and SIV epitopes that are targeted by human and rhesus macaque immune systems, respectively.
He returned to Zambia in 2016 to serve as the lab director at CIDRZ Central Laboratory in Lusaka, Zambia, which is a national reference clinical laboratory that supports PEPFAR goals in Zambia, as well as testing and capacity building for HIV-1 network studies (HVTN) and numerous projects funded through NIH, EDCTP, Fleming Fund, PEPFAR, among others. The lab achieved the honor of being the first medical laboratory in Zambia to be internationally accredited to ISO15189 standards. In order to use their clinical lab expertise to improve other laboratories in Zambia involved with the HIV response, they applied for and were successfully awarded the CDC grant Laboratory Innovation for Excellence running from 2018-2023 which aims to scale up HIV viral load and infant virological testing by improving laboratory systems. Under this project, they have established and improved courier networks, results return, and capacitated central testing facilities and smaller labs for scale-up. He transitioned to head a new department at CIDRZ called the Department of Biomedical Research that aims to conduct research into diagnostics and improvement of laboratory systems in country. Under this department, they are conducting externally funded research into new diagnostics, doing national HIV drug resistance surveillance, partnering with a multinational diagnostic company, Beckman Coulter, to test new diagnostics, and have been awarded the Fleming Fund grant for Zambia to improve antimicrobial resistance surveillance networks, strengthen microbiology labs, and support the development of a policy framework to allow the government Ministries of Health, Livestock and Fisheries, and Environment to use antimicrobial surveillance data to reduce antimicrobial resistance.
Dr Warrier was brought into AIM-X Global as a scientific advisor to guide the research and scientific work of the AIM-X Foundation with a view to developing a globally recognised Pandemic Readiness Index.