Apply for Developmental Awards

The UNC CFAR Developmental Core provides Developmental Awards and small secondary data analysis awards to emerging HIV investigators for one year of research.

Breaking News: The joint UNC-Duke Developmental PrEP RFA has been released! Applications require co-PIs from Duke University and the UNC CFAR and are due February 15, 2018. See below for complete information.

Frequently Asked Questions
2018 Joint UNC-Duke CFAR PrEP RFP
2018 CFAR Developmental Traditional RFP

MI Blog: Exploring Goals and Values

When we ask the client what matters most to them, it can be a good way to continue building rapport. This conversation can explore what the client really cares about and how these goals and values may guide their lives. And we also know that goals and values are aspirations, so there may be some discrepancy between where the client is currently (related to these goals and values) and where the client would like to be in the future. In a counseling session, if this exploration is done in a respectful and genuine way, it can lead to the motivation the client needs to move forward in creating change.

Explore these themes further by reading the latest Motivational Interviewing blog post “Evoking Change Talk Through Exploring Goals and Values.”

Testing Antibodies to Prevent HIV

Myron Cohen, MD, co-authored a perspective in Science about broadly neutralizing antibodies.

The journal Science published a perspective on Oct. 6, by two leading HIV investigators highlighting the next frontier of HIV prevention – broadly neutralizing antibodies or bnAbs.

Antibodies to HIV can be found in 25 percent of people living with the virus who are not on treatment, wrote perspective co-author Myron Cohen, MD, associate director of the UNC CFAR. These broadly neutralizing antibodies are now being tested for HIV prevention in the Antibody Mediated Prevention (AMP) study.

The AMP study will test the efficacy of antibody VRC01 in patients. Participants in the study will be given an intravenous infusion of the VRC01 antibody or a placebo 10 times, once every eight weeks.

Men who have sex with men, transgender women, and transgender men who have sex with men are eligible for the study. AMP is being conducted in North America, South America, and Africa. UNC is a site.

To learn more about bnAbs, read the perspective in Science. To watch a presentation Cohen gave about bnAbs on Oct. 13, visit our Friday Morning Conference archives.

Global Health: What’s in It for Us?

Satish Gopal, MD, MPH, center, works with colleagues in Malawi to improve cancer care.

Satish Gopal, MD, MPH, center, works with colleagues in Malawi to improve cancer care.

Satish Gopal, MD, MPH, directs the cancer program at UNC Project-Malawi. He is the only medical oncologist in Malawi, a nation of more than 18 million people. He has received two developmental and two supplemental awards through the UNC CFAR to support his research. Yet, when his daughter became sick with malaria recently, he paused to question his decision to relocate his family to a resource-limited country. In this op-ed in the Journal of the American Medical Association, he explores how this personal sacrifice is leading to important global health contributions.

NIH Increases Funding for iTech Center

Lisa Hightow-Weidman, MD, MPH

Lisa Hightow-Weidman, MD, MPH

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded the UNC/Emory Center for Innovative Technology (iTech) an additional $13 million to develop interventions for youth at risk for or living with HIV.

“iTech will serve as the first NIH-funded center to use technology in innovative ways to engage HIV infected or at-risk youth,” says Principal Investigator Lisa Hightow-Weidman, MD, MPH, associate professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at UNC.

Based at UNC, iTech includes seven sites around the US, allowing researchers to collaboratively develop the center’s health interventions. These health interventions will target 15-24-year-olds at risk for or currently living with HIV, specifically young men who have sex with men (YMSM). In 2010, YMSM accounted for 72 percent of new HIV infections among people aged 13-24. Hightow-Weidman said HIV disproportionately impacts African American and Latino YMSM; therefore, these groups will be a major focus of iTech’s interventions.

In September of 2016, the NIH awarded its first round of funding to iTech. This $18 million grant funds six initial studies. This new round of financial support will allow for three more studies.

For youth at risk of becoming infected with HIV, Hightow-Weidman said the team will develop apps that aim to increase HIV testing, and use of and adherence to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV. For youth who test positive for the virus, investigators will develop electronic health interventions to engage them in care and improve adherence to antiretroviral therapy.

To learn more about the center’s research, visit https://itechnetwork.org/.

Hudgens Co-edits Book on Quantitative Methods

Michael Hudgens, PhD

Michael Hudgens, PhD

Michael Hudgens, PhD, professor of biostatistics at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, is co-editor of a new book, Quantitative Methods for HIV/AIDS Research, published Aug. 15 by CRC Press. The text brings together the perspectives of statisticians and mathematicians engaged in research on HIV/AIDS.

“We hope that the work will inspire more statisticians, mathematicians and computer scientists to collaborate and contribute to the interdisciplinary challenges of understanding and addressing the AIDS pandemic,” Hudgens said.

Hudgens also is director of the biostatistics core of the UNC Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) and elected fellow of the American Statistical Association. He has experience in collaborative research and statistical methodology development related to studies of infectious diseases, primarily HIV. Currently, he is associate editor for Biometrics, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society – Series B, and Journal of the American Statistical Association. He has been a faculty member at the Gillings School since 2004.

Hudgens’ co-authors, from Duke University’s Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, are Cliburn Chan, PhD, associate professor, and Shein-Chung Chow, PhD, professor.

Dr. Napravnik Receives Teaching Award

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Sonia Napravnik, PhD, majored in philosophy and then the AIDS epidemic prompted her to return to university for nursing and epidemiology degrees. Now a researcher and educator at UNC, her students are honoring her for keeping the course work interesting and inspiring careers in public health.

She lists learning as the most enjoyable aspect of her job as an associate professor in the UNC School of Medicine and the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

“There are many aspects to what I do each day, and some continually evolve and change, but learning has been constant,” she says. “This is one of the reasons being at UNC has been so incredible. I am surrounded by faculty, clinical and research team members, and students who challenge and inspire me to learn and grow.”

Just as she is being inspired by her students, her students are being motivated by her. Students in her epidemiology 711 class, clinical measurement and evaluation, nominated Napravnik for a Gillings School of Global Public Health Teaching Excellence and Innovation Award. The awards are presented annually to a professor in each of Gillings’ departments who possesses subject matter expertise, explains complex topics in an understandable manner and shows genuine interest in students’ lives in and out of the classroom.

Napravnik received the teaching award for the Department of Epidemiology during a ceremony in the Armfield Atrium of the Michael Hooker Research Center on Thursday, March 23. The competition for a teaching award this year was intense with 250 nominations being submitted for 70 faculty. Only eight faculty are chosen to receive an award.

“Being acknowledged by students is an extraordinary honor,” Napravnik says. “It is inspiring to be a teacher at UNC where the students have such a diversity of perspectives, dedication, passion and an infectious energy and drive to make a difference in clinical care and public health.”

The course Napravnik teaches provides a broad-based introduction to the concepts and methods of epidemiology with particular emphasis on their application in clinical research, clinical practice and health care policy. Napravnik’s students’ nomination letters praised her ability to make intimidating subject matter understandable.

“One student wrote that they hoped they would one day be appreciated by students as much as the class appreciates Dr. Napravnik,” says Laura Linnan, ScD, associate dean for academic and student affairs and professor of health behavior. Linnan presided over the awards ceremony.

Receiving a teaching award from the Gillings School of Global Public Health is especially meaningful to Napravnik as she earned her master’s in public health and doctoral degrees in epidemiology from the school.

“It is an honor to be recognized among the many outstanding teachers at UNC, many of whom have taught me,” Napravnik says.

In addition to her roles in the Division of Infectious Diseases within the School of Medicine and the Department of Epidemiology in Gillings, Napravnik is associate director of the UNC Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) Clinical Core. She oversees the UNC CFAR HIV Clinical Cohort study as well as provides assistance with study design, implementation and analysis to translational and clinical investigators. She credits the CFAR’s Clinical Core Director Joe Eron, MD, with mentoring, inspiring and encouraging her both academically and professionally.

“Sonia is an integral member of the HIV research community at UNC and the reason our HIV clinical cohort has been so successful and has provided a platform for many students interested in understanding more about HIV disease and its treatment,” says Eron, professor of medicine and vice chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases. “Sonia brings depth of knowledge, analytical talent, problem-solving skills and a welcoming, inquisitive personality to our research group. I am not surprised that she was recognized by her students as an outstanding teacher.”

Read more here…

Eron Named Vice Chair of Largest NIH HIV Research Network

ERONJoe_BWUNC Professor of Medicine Joseph Eron, MD, has been elected vice chair of the AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG). Established by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1987, the ACTG is the largest network of research sites in the world dedicated to finding a cure for HIV and the virus’s opportunistic infections.

“The ACTG is an incredible scientific group that has been a leader in HIV clinical and translational research for 30 years,” said Eron. “I am honored, thrilled and humbled to serve as the vice chair of the group and I will do my best to continue moving the research forward with the ultimate goal of improving the lives of people living with HIV.”

With the ACTG for 25 years, Eron previously chaired the network’s HIV Reservoirs and Viral Eradication Transformative Science Group. He has worked extensively in the area of HIV drug development and led or participated in original studies of many antiretroviral therapies. His first clinical trial in the 1990s demonstrated the life-saving benefits of combination antiretroviral therapy and was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Since then, Eron has authored more than 300 publications in peer-reviewed journals focusing on antiretroviral therapy, resistance, pharmacology, transmission, HIV persistence and disruption of latency.

At UNC, he treats people living with HIV at the Infectious Diseases Clinic in the N.C. Memorial Hospital. He serves as vice chief for the Division of Infectious Diseases and director of the UNC Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) Clinical Core.

Eron has received many accolades throughout his career. He received UNC’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2005. He was awarded the HIV Medicine Association’s HIV Clinical Educator Award in 2013. In 2016, the North Carolina Community AIDS Fund presented Eron with its Red Ribbon Award for Outstanding Achievement, marking the 20th anniversary of his discovery of combination therapy for the treatment of HIV.

UNC to Test Therapeutic HIV Vaccine

Nilu Goonetilleke, Ph.D., will lead the study testing a therapeutic vaccine for HIV.

Nilu Goonetilleke, Ph.D., will lead the study testing a therapeutic vaccine for HIV.

A multidisciplinary research team at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been awarded more than $5.6 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to test a therapeutic vaccine in people living with HIV. Strengthening and redirecting the immune system’s anti-HIV response are the primary goals of the five-year study.

“The first generation of this vaccine produced an impressive immune response in people living with HIV,” said Nilu Goonetilleke, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Departments of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology at UNC. “Here we will test the second generation of this vaccine that we hope will be even better at targeting HIV reservoirs in the body.”

A challenge to achieving an HIV cure is that the virus enters a resting state in the body. Latency-reversing agents have shown promise in awaking these dormant reservoirs. If the vaccine proves successful in boosting and controlling the immune system’s response to HIV, it could eventually be paired with latency-reversing agents to clear the virus.

“The next step would be a combination study investigating a latency-reversing agent and the vaccine,” Goonetilleke said. “Ultimately, we want to improve clearance of these reactivated cells and reduce the viral reservoir.”

The study will recruit patients at UNC who are living with HIV, but who are virally suppressed due to antiretroviral therapy. Goonetilleke will work with colleagues across campus, including the Center for AIDS Research, the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Department of Biostatistics. The University of Oxford will provide the vaccine.