University of Alberta, MD
University of Toronto, Internal Medicine Residency, Internal Medicine Residency
University of British Columbia, Infectious Diseases Clinical Fellowship
University of Manitoba / University of Nairobi, Infectious Diseases Research Fellowship

Innate Immunity and Cellphones for Patient Care

Basic research interests include innate immune mechanisms of susceptibility to infectious diseases, the role of innate immunity in vaccine design, and the control of inflammation and its role in HIV pathogenesis.

Clinical research interests include using mobile information technology (cell phones) to improve patient support and health services in resource-limited settings. This work was featured on CBC’s The National.


Selected Publications

Smillie K, Van Borek N, van der Kop ML, Lukhwaro A, Li N, Karanja S, Patel AR, Ojakaa D, Lester RT. Mobile health for early retention in HIV care: a qualitative study in Kenya (WelTel Retain). AJAR. 2015; 13(4):331-338.
Mills EJ, Lester R, Thorlund K, Lorenzi M, Muldoon K, Kanters S, Linnemayr S, Gross R, Calderon Y, Amico KR, Thirumurthy H, Pearson C, Remien RH, Mbuagbaw L, Thabane L, Chung MH, Wilson IB, Liu A, Uthman OA, Simoni J, Bangsberg D, Yaya S, Barnighausen T, Ford N, Nachega JB. Interventions to promote adherence to antiretroviral therapy in Africa: a network meta-analysis. Lancet HIV. 2014; 1(3):e104-e111.
De Vera MA, Sadatsafavi M, Tsao NW, Lynd LD, Lester R, Gastonguay L, Galo J, FitzGerald JM, Brasher P, Marra CA. Empowering pharmacists in asthma management through interactive SMS (EmPhAsIS): a study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials. 2014; 15(1):488.
van der Kop ML, Ekstrom AM, Awiti-Ujiji O, Chung MH, Mahal D, Thabane L, Gelmon L, Kimani J, Lester RT. Factors associated with attrition from HIV care during the first year after antiretroviral therapy initiation in Kenya. J AIDS Clin Res. 2014; 5(10):354.
Smillie K, Van Borek N, Abaki J, Pick N, Maan EJ, Friesen K, Graham R, Levine S, van der Kop M, Lester RT, Murray M. A qualitative study investigating the use of a mobile phone short message service designed to improve HIV adherence and retention in care in Canada (WelTel BC1). JANAC. 2014; 25(6):614-625.
van der Kop ML, Memetovic J, Patel A, Marra F, Sadatsafavi M, Hajek J, Smillie K, Thabane L, Taylor D, Johnston J, Lester RT. The effect of weekly text-message communication on treatment completion among patients with latent tuberculosis infection: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial (WelTel LTBI). BMJ Open. 2014; 4(4):e004362.
Yao XD, Omange RW, Henrick BM, Lester RT, Kimani J, Ball TB, Plummer FA, Rosenthal KL.  Acting locally: innate mucosal immunity in resistance to HIV-1 infection in Kenyan commercial sex workers. Mucosal Immunol. 2014; 7(2):268-279.
Mahal D, van der Kop M, Murray M, Jongbloed K, Patel A, Kazi M, Lester R. Mobile health: an update on BC projects that use WelTel to enhance patient care. BCMJ. 2014; 56(2):90-93.
Mbuagbaw L, van der Kop ML, Lester RT, Thirumurthy H, Pop-Eleches C, Ye C, Smieja M, Dolovich L, Mills EJ, Thabane L. Mobile phone text messages for improving adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART): an individual patient data meta-analysis of randomised trials. BMJ Open. 2013; 3(12):e003950.
van der Kop M,  Memetovic J, Smillie K, Coleman J, Van Borek N, Taylor D, Alasaly K, Johnston J, Lester RT, Marra F. Use of the WelTel mobile health intervention at a tuberculosis clinic in British Columbia: a pilot study. JMTM. 2013; 2(3):7-14.
Lester RT. Ask, don’t tell: mobile phones to improve HIV care. N Engl J Med. 2013; 369(19):1867-1868.
Lanham HJ, Leykum LK, Taylor BS, McCannon CJ, Lindberg C, Lester RT. How complexity science can inform scale-up and spread in health care: understanding the role of self-organization in variation across local contexts. Soc Sci Med. 2013; 93:194-202.
van der Kop M, Ojaaka DI, Patel A, Thabane L, Kinagwi K, Ekstrom AM, Smillie K, Karanja S, Awiti P, Mills E, Marra C, Kyomuhangi LB, Lester RT. The effect of weekly short message service communication on patient retention in care in the first year after HIV diagnosis: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial (WelTel Retain). BMJ Open. 2013; 3(6):e003155
Mbuagbaw L, Thabane L, Ongolo-Zogo P, Lester RT, Mills EJ, Smieja M, Dolovich L, Kouanfack C. The Cameroon Mobile Phone SMS (CAMPS) trial: a randomized trial of text messaging versus usual care for adherence to antiretroviral therapy. PLoS One.  2012; 7(12):e46909.
van der Kop ML, Karanja S, Thabane L, Marra C, Chung MH, Gelmon L, Kimani J, Lester RT. In-depth analysis of patient-clinician cell phone communication during the WelTel Kenya1 antiretroviral adherence trial. PLoS One. 2012; 7(9):e46033.
Mills EJ, Lester R, Ford N. Promoting long term adherence to antiretroviral treatment. BMJ. 2012; 344:e4173.
Thirumurthy H, Lester RT. M-health for health behaviour change in resource-limited settings: applications to HIV care and beyond. Bull World Health Organ. 2012; 90(5):390-392.
Mills EJ, Lester R, Ford N. Adherence to antiretroviral therapy: supervision or support? Lancet Infect Dis. 2012; 12(2):97-98.
Karanja S, Mbuagbaw L, Ritvo P, Law J, Kyobutungi C, Reid G, Ram R, Estambale B, Lester R. A workshop report on HIV mHealth synergy and strategy meeting to review emerging evidence-based mHealth interventions and develop a framework for scale-up of these interventions. Pan Afr Med J. 2011; 10(37).
Lester RT, Ritvo P, Mills EJ, Kariri A, Karanja S, Chung MH, Jack W, Habyarimana J, Sadatsafavi M, Najafzadeh M, Marra CA, Estambale B, Ngugi E, Ball TB, Thabane L, Gelmon LJ, Kimani J, Ackers M, Plummer FA. Effects of a mobile phone short message service on antiretroviral treatment adherence in Kenya (WelTel Kenya1): a randomised trial. Lancet. 201; 376(9755):1838-1845.
McKinnon LR, Kimani M, Wachihi C, Nagelkerke NJ, Muriuki FK, Kariri A, Lester RT, Gelmon L, Ball TB, Plummer FA, Kaul R, Kimani J. Effect of baseline HIV disease parameters on CD4+ T cell recovery after antiretroviral therapy initiation in Kenyan women. PLoS One. 2010; 5(7):e11434.
Lester RT, Jaoko W, Plummer FA, Kaul R. Sex, microbial translocation, and the African HIV epidemic. Proc Natl Acad Sci U.S.A. 2009; 106(34):e89.
Lester RT, Yao XD, Ball TB, McKinnon LR, Omange WR, Kaul R, Wachihi C, Jaoko W, Rosenthal KL, Plummer FA. HIV-1 RNA dysregulates the natural TLR response to subclinical endotoxemia in Kenyan female sex-workers. PLoS One. 2009; 4(5):e5644.
Lester R, Karanja S. Mobile phones: exceptional tools for HIV/AIDS, health, and crisis management. Lancet Infect Dis. 2008; 8(12):738-739.
Lester RT, Yao XD, Ball TB, McKinnon LR, Kaul R, Wachihi C, Jaoko W, Plummer FA, Rosenthal KL. Toll-like receptor expression and responsiveness are increased in viraemic HIV-1 infection. AIDS. 2008; 22(6):685-694.
Lester RT, Gelmon L, Plummer FA. Cell phones: tightening the communication gap in resource-limited antiretroviral programmes? AIDS. 2006; 20(17):2242-2244.

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