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Kirsten Rowe

MB ChB


DPhil Student

Research focus: Cognition in HIV-positive adolescents and group music interventions for mental health

I am a clinician-scientist who is passionate about global brain health. I am currently completing my DPhil in the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Group of the Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford. I am supervised by:

-Prof Alan Stein, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, UK,

-Prof Gaia Scerif, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, UK,

-Dr Ryan Wagner, MRC/Wits Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit, School of Public Health, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa. 

I am interested in the effects of the HIV, a neurotropic virus that is highly prevalent in South Africa, on the developing brain, particularly during the adolescent period. My specific research focus is on executive functioning in HIV-positive (perinatally and behaviourally acquired HIV) adolescents, its relationship with behavioural outcomes, and the development and piloting of a music intervention aiming to improve executive function in this population. In 2018, I acted as the principal investigator and project site manager for the AHEAD (Adolescent HIV Executive Function and Drumming) Study (PACTR201804003332337), a pilot RCT of a group drumming intervention aiming to improve cognition and mental health in adolescents with HIV in rural South Africa. The study was nested within the MRC/Wits Agincourt Health and Demographic Surveillance System site.

Prior to my DPhil, I graduated with an MBChB from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, receiving Academic Colours and an award for the best rural elective. This was followed by a 2-year medical internship practising under supervision at the East London Hospital Complex, South Africa and a year of community service in primary health care and emergency medicine in Kimberley, South Africa.

My long-term vision is to do policy-shaping research in the field of HIV and mental health in South Africa. I would also like to start an HIV-related community-based organisation. 

My research has been funded by: the Rhodes Trust; the Africa-Oxford initiative (AfiOx-32); the Gerry-Farrell travelling scholarship from the Society for Music, Education and Psychology Research (SEMPRE); the Medical Research Council of the UK; and the Murray-Speight grant.

Recent publications

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