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UCSB Extension Technical Writing Instructor Publishes Book on Pediatric AIDS Breakthrough

UCSB Extension's "Fundamentals of Technical Writing" instructor Rebecca Anderson witnessed firsthand the historic pharmaceutical breakthrough that, almost overnight, rewrote the previously hopeless tragedy of mother-to-child-transmitted pediatric AIDS.

“One investigator told me that ‘Nevirapine changed the face of AIDS globally,’” she now says, referring to the drug whose development and implementation have slowed dramatically the incidence of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

Dr. Anderson has written a book about the drug and its game-changing rollout. Nevirapine and the Quest to End Pediatric AIDS published in February and was written from a privileged perspective. A pharmacologist by training, at the time of the events described in her book, Dr. Anderson was in the employ of pharmaceutical giant Boehringer Ingelheim, the company whose team developed Nevirapine.

“I provided project management support to the scientific team at BI during the research and early development of Nevirapine,” she explains.

She saw the drug evolve in painstaking steps, from a theory to a paradigm-changing weapon in the global war against pediatric AIDS; a scourge which the AIDS research community had battled with little success to that point.

“The pivotal event was the discovery that a single dose of Nevirapine, given to a woman during labor, could prevent HIV transmission to her infant,” she said.

This ‘single dose’ characteristic of the drug, along with its comparative affordability in those parts of the world most affected by mother-to-child pediatric AIDS, made it a true game-changer.

Today, Dr. Anderson is a renowned medical writer, and this spring quarter she will be bringing that expertise to bear in her UCSB Extension course "Fundamentals of Technical Writing." The course begins April 14.

“Writing the book enhanced my skills in writing narrative, gathering information, and fact-checking," she said. "It also gave me insights regarding the current trends in the publishing world, such as writing proposals, interacting with editors, and satisfying various media requirements. All of those are fundamental to good technical writing, and I will incorporate those lessons into the course.”

UCSB Extension offers certificate programs, courses and seminars for personal and professional development on a year-round basis. Courses are open to the general public, including UCSB students. UCSB Extension is wholly supported by student fees and receives no state funds.

— Jeff Wing represents UCSB Extension.

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