Dr. Kevin Robertson honored for his work to understand the neurological effects of HIV

fb842458-2788-4812-b4c4-612385ac37fcKevin Robertson, PhD, is a professor of neurology and the director of the AIDS Neurological Center. He has led global research initiatives, and trained clinicians and researchers all over the world to establish research centers in Uganda, South Africa, Malawi, Nigeria, India, Thailand, Peru, and Zimbabwe. This summer, Robertson was recognized for his role in training the next generation of AIDS researchers across the globe by the American Psychological Association as the 2016 Distinguished Leader in Psychology and AIDS.

Robertson shared, “Even in 1987, there was a real interest in establishing an infrastructure here in infectious diseases and other disciplines. Things really took off when the Global HIV Prevention and Treatment Clinical Trials Unit was established to test the drugs that were in development and determine how effective they were.

Joe Eron led a number of those studies, and he’s just been a great collaborator and wonderful scientist and clinician and researcher. Mike Cohen has always been very supportive of my research in HIV in the brain. There’s always been really wonderful, collaborative, cutting-edge, leading scientists here at UNC doing this work. And it shows.

It shows in Mike Cohen’s work – showing that the virus can be suppressed and not transmitted to partners if you’re taking your antiretrovirals –  and Ron Swanstrom’s work. Dr. Swanstrom, who’s head of the Center for AIDS Research, and I have had a long collaboration, as well, studying virus in the brain and comparing that to systemic virus and looking for compartmentalization.”

Read more here…

CALL FOR ABSTRACTS: 2016 Inter-CFAR Collaboration on HIV Research in Women Symposium


Deadline for Abstract Submission: Sunday, October 2, 2016

Conference: December 6 & 7, 2016

Birmingham, AB

The CFAR Joint Symposium on HIV Research in Women is soliciting abstracts for posters and oral presentations from investigators at CFAR-affiliated institutions in each of the below three areas:

  • Vulnerable Populations
  • Microbiome in HIV-Infected Women and its Impact on Health Outcomes
  • The HIV Continuum of Care Across the Lifespan of Women

Priority given to junior and mid-level investigators from doctoral students through assistant professor titles.  Abstracts must be no more than 350 words in length.  Review criteria include overall impact, contribution to the field of HIV in women, and relevance to one or more of the three session topics. Some travel support will be available based on need. There will be no registration fee for this symposium.

The goal of the CFAR Joint Symposium on HIV Research in Women is to identify gaps in knowledge in HIV and women’s research and develop strategies that will move the field forward.

Click here to submit abstracts.

Click here to learn more about the symposium.

Please email Julia Dettinger with questions regarding abstract submission.

Dr. Eron Receives Red Ribbon Award

Bruce Curran, right, serves on the board of the NC Community AIDS Fund. He presented Joe Eron, MD, with the group’s Outstanding Achievement Award.

Dr. Joseph Eron is a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at UNC and the Director of the UNC Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) Clinical Core. The North Carolina Community AIDS Fund bestowed its outstanding achievement award to him this spring in recognition of “outstanding individual effort and personal sacrifice” for serving “in a variety of roles helping individuals in NC who are HIV positive and living with AIDS.”

“The North Carolina Community AIDS Fund Red Ribbon Award was given to Dr. Eron in celebration of the 20th anniversary of his New England Journal of Medicine paper that was published on the first combination therapy study with AZT/3TC in treatment naive patients,” says Bruce Curran, member of the NCCAF Advisory Board. “That publication was one of the major turning points in the fight against HIV/AIDS.”

Read more here…

UNC Global HIV Prevention and Treatment Clinical Trials Unit

Screen Shot 2016-09-07 at 1.15.11 PM

The Global HIV Prevention and Treatment Clinical Trials Unit at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is dedicated to conducting and developing research of HIV infection and providing access to promising clinical protocols to persons living with and without HIV.

Click the link to see a map of where the UNC Clinical Trials Unit works around the globe, to learn more about studies that are currently enrolling, and read about the $40 million award from the National Institutes of Health for a clinical trials unit.

Motivational Interviewing Workshop for Health Care Professionals

A UNC/AHEC workshop in Charlotte, NC

Motivational Interviewing (MI) for Health Care Professionals: A Person-Centered Approach to Achieve Healthier Outcomes

November 3-4, 2016
9:00 am to 4:30 pm
5039 Airport Center Pkwy, Bldg K, Charlotte, NC

Taught by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s MI expert, Steve Bradley-Bull, MEd, LPC, in collaboration with the Charlotte Area Health Education Center (AHEC), this workshop will focus on learning the fundamentals of MI and how to apply it in a variety of health care settings and with diverse individuals.

Register for the workshop here.

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 1.41.34 PM

2BeatHIV Educates Public About HIV

Our understanding of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has come a long way since it was first named in 1986. Yet little of this new information about the virus, which still infects 50,000 new people each year in the United States, seems to have made its way into the general public. A research project out of UNC called 2BeatHIV is trying to change that.

Infection with HIV, which causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) over time, was once a death sentence. But thanks to three decades of intensive study by researchers all over the world, HIV/AIDS has become a manageable chronic infection. With proper treatment, HIV-positive individuals enjoy a near normal life expectancy and researchers are hopeful that an effective vaccine could be developed in the coming years.

But no one, it seems, has told the general public. Despite landmark study results about treatment as prevention being released in 2011 and 2015 by UNC researchers, 44 percent of Americans believe that anti-HIV medications do not prevent the spread of HIV. The survey, conducted by The Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation, also found that more than a third of respondents (34 percent) incorrectly thought HIV could be transmitted by sharing a drinking glass, touching a toilet seat or swimming in a pool with someone living with HIV.

This has obvious repercussions for people living with the virus and the stigma that continues to be associated with it. The goal of 2BeatHIV is to get the public informed about HIV and invested in finding a cure for the disease.

The project, which is nested within UNC’s searcHIV working group, is headed up by Allison Mathews, PhD, a post-doc with a dual appointment in both the Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases and the Department of Social Medicine.

Read more here…


UNC & GSK Announce Partnership to Accelerate Search for HIV Cure

Dr David Margolis

Dr. David Margolis will lead the collaboration at UNC.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and GSK (GlaxoSmithKline), a global research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare company, have joined forces to create an HIV Cure center and a jointly owned company that will focus on discovering a cure for HIV/AIDS. This partnership between the public and private sector is part of a newly developing research model that has great potential to advance the field of HIV cure research.

The HIV Cure center will be located on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. Qura Therapeutics, the newly formed company, will provide support for the business aspects of the partnership.

“The excitement of this public-private partnership lies in its vast potential,” said UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “Carolina has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS research for the last 30 years. This first of its kind, joint-ownership model is a novel approach toward finding a cure, and we hope it serves as an invitation to the world’s best researchers and scientists. Today, Carolina’s best are taking another major step in the global fight against HIV/AIDS.”

The cure center will dedicate efforts to investigating many research approaches to HIV cure. One of the greatest challenges in HIV cure research is the tendency of the virus to hide in a dormant state in certain cells of the body. If a patient stops taking anti-retroviral drugs, these cells can “reawaken”. Dr. David Margolis, UNC professor of medicine and leader of the Collaboratory of AIDS Researchers for Eradication (CARE), will focus on the “shock and kill” method, in which drugs are taken to wake up the virus so the infected cells can be clearly identified by the immune system.

“After 30 years of developing treatments that successfully manage HIV/AIDS without finding a cure, we need both new research approaches to this difficult medical problem and durable alliances of many partners to sustain the effort that will be needed to reach this goal,” said Dr. Margolis. “The ‘shock and kill’ approach has shown significant promise in early translational research on humans and has been the focus of research for the last several years.” Building upon the research network started by the UNC Center for AIDS Research (CFAR), this emerging partnership will engage scientists from UNC, GSK, RTP and related communities who are deeply dedicated to solving one of the world’s toughest problems – the eradication of HIV/AIDS.

This news was also featured in the New York Times; read the article here.

Celebrating the Life and Work of Dr. Sharon Elliot-Bynum

dr.sharon-791x1024Dr. Sharon Elliott-Bynum was the Co-Founder and Executive Director of CAARE, Inc. She was a native of Durham who has worked tirelessly to improve her community, building on her passion for and commitment to her career in nursing. She was a trailblazing public health advocate who believed in comprehensively addressing the social determinants of health to effectively improve the lives of underserved and underrepresented individuals. Dr. Bynum had a long history of attracting students, volunteers, healthcare providers, and professionals from other diverse sectors to join in her mission to help people in need. She received post-secondary education in Nursing, Counseling and Theology including degrees in nursing from Durham Technical Institute, Watts School of Nursing, and North Carolina Central University. She also received a Master of Arts degree in Counseling and a PhD degree in Theology from Victory International College.

Over the years CAARE, Inc., was supportive of CFAR researchers who sought to carry out research projects with the potential to improve the health of the Durham Community. While her focus was on service and empowerment, Dr. Bynum’s visionary approach included an appreciation of research to improve health and health care, when done with a deep respect for communities.

CFAR Director Dr. Ron Swanstrom and Deputy Surgeon General Dr. Sylvia Trent-Adams celebrate the work of Dr. Sharon Elliot-Bynum and CAARE, Inc. at the Washington Duke Inn Gala

In 1995, Dr. Elliott-Bynum and her sister, the late Pat Amaechi co-founded Healing with CAARE, Inc. Together this sister team worked progressively to expand the physical facilities for CAARE and to develop a broad range of healthcare services. Although CAARE, Inc. began as a non-profit community based organization that provided support, education, and empowerment to individuals living with HIV/AIDS and their affected families, it expanded to much more. Over the years, the goals of CAARE, Inc. broadened in response to the needs of the community through a holistic program targeting a broad range of health disparities including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and HIV/AIDS. For the past twenty years, CAARE has provided free health care, public health education, and human services to thousands of uninsured and underserved individuals. Currently, the agency serves more than 1,100 individuals every month.

Dr. Sharon Elliott-Bynum, age 58, passed on January 3, 2016, peacefully at her home. She leaves to cherish her memories her daughter, Ebony Elliott-Covington; son, Damien Elliott-Bynum; brother, Joe L. Elliott, Jr.; sisters, Carolyn E. Hinton, Addie L. Mann and grandchild, Ahmad Richardson.

Click here to watch Congressman Butterfield honor the life of Dr. Sharon Elliott-Bynum on the House Floor.

Celebrating Ward Cates, public health scholar and beloved mentor

Wednesday 11/18 - Ward Cates, President of FHI speaking at the opening plenaryThe world has lost a public health champion, pioneer researcher in the fields of HIV/AIDS and women’s reproductive health, and compassionate mentor and friend. Willard (Ward) Cates Jr., MD, MPH, died on March 17, 2016, at the age of 73.

Ward Cates was the President of FHI360 during the formation of the UNC CFAR and played an instrumental role in the creation and success of our research center.  Even after he “retired” and became President Emeritus of FHI360, he remained our dear friend and collaborator.  His loss has resonated throughout the international HIV research community, and is felt deeply by all of us at the CFAR.

Read more here…

Healing with CAARE, Inc. Hosts Leadership Awards Gala

gaala 2

UNC Graduate students celebrate at the Gala with Dr. Cheryl Giscombe (Mental Health Program Director and Academic Partner at CAARE) and Ms. Carolyn Hinton (Executive Director of CAARE, Inc.)

On Friday December 4, 2015, Healing with CAARE, Inc. hosted its inaugural Jeanne Hopkins Lucas Education and Wellness Center Leadership Awards Gala. The Gala was planned to celebrate CAARE’s 20th Year of Service in Healthcare Innovation for Durham, NC and surrounding, while recognizing and honoring outstanding community leaders and volunteers who have provided valuable services to CAARE’s overall mission, to eliminate health disparities and provide holistic care to underserved populations.

Keynote Speaker United States Deputy Surgeon General, Rear Admiral (RADM) Sylvia Trent-Adams, spoke about how CAARE, Inc. serves as a model for community development and public health solutions that should be implemented across the country. As Deputy Surgeon General, RADM Sylvia Trent-Adams advises and supports the Surgeon General regarding operations of the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps and in communicating the best available scientific information to advance the health of the nation. She has served as the Chief Nurse Officer of the Public Health Service since November 2013. In this role she advises the Office of the Surgeon General and the Department of Health and Human Services on the recruitment, assignment, deployment, retention, and career development of Corps nurse professionals. RADM Trent-Adams spoke of the importance of partnering with organizations like CAARE to serve the community and work to address health disparities and social determinants of health. The work of the USPHS is much like that of CAARE as it strives to protect, promote, and advance the health and safety of the nation.

Healing with CAARE, Inc. was founded in 1995 by sisters and Durham natives, Dr. Sharon Elliott-Bynum and the late Patricia Riley Amaechi as a result of their dedication to serving the needs of the Durham community. For twenty years, CAARE has provided free health care, public health education, and human services to thousands of uninsured and underserved individuals. Currently, the agency serves more than 1,100 individuals every month.

The CAARE Gala was organized to bring together a variety of community leaders, partners, volunteers and community constituents who support the mission and vision of Healing with CAARE, Inc. The special event was planned to accomplish three major goals: (1) Celebrate Healing with CAARE’s 20th Year of Service and Healthcare Innovation for Durham, NC and surrounding counties; (2) Recognize and honor outstanding community leaders and volunteers who have provided valuable service to Healing with CAARE, Inc. in support of the agency’s overall mission to eliminate health disparities and provide holistic care to underserved populations; and (3) Raise funds for Healing with CAARE’s campaign to support the health and human services provided by the Jeanne Hopkins Lucas Education and Wellness Center and other programs at CAARE.

caare gala

Deputy Surgeon General (Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams) and Captain Beverly Dandridge from the U.S. Public Health Service

The Education and Wellness Center at Healing with CAARE is named after the late Jeanne Hopkins Lucas, the first African American woman elected to serve in North Carolina’s State Senate. Senator Lucas was a retired educator and educational administrator in the Durham Public Schools prior to serving as a State Senator; she was re-elected six times. Senator Lucas was a fierce advocate for education and health access for underserved populations. Senator Lucas was also a mentor to CAARE’s founder Dr. Sharon Elliott-Bynum, and she supported the development of the Education and Wellness Center at Healing with CAARE. Proceeds from the Gala will support the Jeanne Hopkins Lucas Education and Wellness Center to further continue services and to expand the agency’s reach to improve health and human services to the Durham community and surrounding counties.

Dr. Carol Golin shared, “The Gala event was a wonderful way to honor and pay tribute to Dr. Sharon Elliot-Bynum. Several of us from the CFAR, including CFAR Director Ron Swanstrom and Code Office Executive Director, Caressa White attended the event to express our gratitude to Dr. Bynum and CAARE, Inc for their generosity in fostering partnerships between CAARE and CFAR researchers. It was inspiring to take stock of the many, many ways Dr. Bynum and Healing with CAARE, Inc. have contributed to the Durham community over the past 20 years. One of Dr. Bynum’s many leadership skills was her ability to inspire generosity in others to volunteer their talents and resources to CAARE and this was how she was able to grow such a vibrant organization. I felt very honored and grateful to be able to be at this lovely event.”

Visit this page to read a tribute to the life and work of Dr. Sharon Elliot-Bynum.