Research partnerships in Africa and Asia are central to the success of the UNC CFAR, whose organizing purpose is to change the course of the epidemic through discovery. Toward this end, we have made extensive, sustained investments in HIV research and training sites in Africa and Asia, and have chosen 5 countries in which to focus our NIH-sponsored HIV/AIDS research. These are: Malawi, South Africa, Zambia, China, and Vietnam. The International Core was formed with an understanding that it can be challenging to conduct biomedical and translational research in resource-constrained settings, and that by centralizing certain common functions we can maximize creativity, innovation, and impact.


Our activities are bi-directional: we connect UNC investigators to key populations in Africa and Asia, and we connect in-country scientists to research and training resources at our US location.


Services Offered by the International Core

Consultation and expertise in human subject research and ethics in foreign countries
Centralized management of US and foreign IRB submissions and other regulatory matters
Support for new protocol development through the review of new funding submissions, including design, approach, budget, grant assembly, internal review, and obtaining letters of support
Connecting international scientists to resources and expertise on the UNC campus
Developing new lab capacity and supporting the introduction of new assays
Supporting standardization of data collection and database maintenance across sites

The International Core stimulates scientific collaboration in interdisciplinary and translational research by familiarizing collaborators with the resources of all the CFAR cores, and by helping CFAR investigators from UNC, Family Health International (FHI 360) and Research Triangle Institute (RTI) conduct research in these key countries.

The International Core sponsors a wide array of training opportunities through the resources of the UNC Fogarty Center, USAID, and NGOs including FHI 360, and the Clinton Foundation; and provides in-country outreach and educational opportunities including scientific dissemination meetings.

Jeff Stringer, MD

Core Director


Dr. Jeff Stringer is a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at University of North Carolina’s School of Medicine, and Director of UNC’s Global Women’s Health. His research focuses on PMTCT, preterm birth, and HIV/AIDS in women and children. He is experienced in science leadership, having led large interventional, observational, translational, and implementation research efforts, and having held leadership roles within the DAIDS HIV/AIDS clinical trials networks. Dr. Stringer has served as PI for over $200 million in federal and foundation grant and contract funding. His current portfolio includes funding from NIH/NIAID, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.In 2001, Dr. Stringer and his colleagues established the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ). Over the following decade, he led the growth of CIDRZ and a diverse faculty of obstetricians, pediatricians, internists, and epidemiologists. Since its inception, CIDRZ has reached over 1,400,000 women with services to protect their infants from HIV infection.  The organization also works in cervical cancer screening (more than 100,000 women served) and in safe obstetrics. Dr. Stringer returned to the US in 2012 to lead UNC’s Global Women’s Health. He continues to travel to Africa at least quarterly.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
CB #7577
Chapel Hill, NC

Myron S Cohen, MD

Core Associate Director


Dr. Myron Cohen is the J. Herbert Bate Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Microbiology & Immunology, and Public Health. He has served as Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases since 1988, and is Director of the UNC Center for Infectious Diseases. Dr. Cohen’s research interests are in transmission and prevention of transmission of HIV. He and his research group have done groundbreaking research in the measurement of factors that facilitate transmission of HIV, with special emphasis on classical sexually transmitted diseases and antiviral effects on suppressing HIV in the genital tract. Dr. Cohen actively participates in national and international policy groups such as the 2000 IOM Committee on HIV Prevention, the CDC STD Guidelines Panel, the CDC HIV Prevention Panel, the OAR International Planning Group, the Scientific Advisory Board of the Human Virology Institute, the China CIPRA, and many NIH and VA Study Sections. Dr. Cohen has significant experience in research at international sites. He has worked with USAID and NIH on HIV prevention since 1989, and is a highly visible leader of international HIV research.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
CB# 7295
Chapel Hill, NC

Harmony Chi

Core Administrator

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Ms. Chi serves as the International core administrator. She has an MSc in public health from the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and has worked with Dr. Stringer since 2002. She is well-versed in international research administration and lived and worked in Zambia for 14 years. Now based in Chapel Hill, she helps coordinate CFAR’s international activities with investigators at UNC and abroad.

Tania H Caravella, MPH

Regulatory and Ethics Constultant



Ms. Caravella is the Director of Regulatory Affairs for the UNC Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases and serves as the Regulatory and Ethics Consultant for the International Core of the UNC CFAR. She has an MPH in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from Boston University and a BA from Duke University. She has 20 years of experience working in the pharmaceutical industry and in academic medical centers. Currently, Ms. Caravella oversees the regulatory affairs for 400 studies worldwide, providing support with both international and domestic IRBs, and works with other regulatory authorities including the FDA and equivalent bodies in collaborating countries. She assists investigators and sponsors in the regulatory approval process, provides GCP and Human Subjects Protection training for staff, and serves as a resource for sound ethical research in human subjects. She has worked with researchers in 10 countries such as Malawi, Zambia, Vietnam, South Africa, Cameroon, China, and Russia.

CB# 7215
Chapel Hill, NC


Consultation in human subjects research in foreign countries

-Maintain a dynamic informational display of current international research in HIV/AIDS by UNC investigators, with links to information about international research by the CFAR partner institutions, RTI and FHI. The goal is to foster collaborations between existing international researchers and to facilitate access to international sites for new investigators.

-Convene international research experts from UNC, FHI and RTI to collect up-to-date information on country-specific expertise and on-going projects.

Centralized management of foreign country IRB and other regulatory matters

-Provide guidance on the ethics of international research on HIV/AIDS, through hands-on consultation and assistance with IRB issues, informed consent, and the regulatory requirements of international research, and through maintaining links to training and informational websites developed at other institutions.

Proposal development and technical support

-Assist international collaborators and trainees to develop independent proposals for NIH funding, focusing particularly on the countries with which UNC has ongoing collaborative research projects. Currently, these include: China, Malawi, Madagascar, Congo, Cameroon, South Africa, and Russia.

-In collaboration with the other cores, assist in providing technical support for clinical and basic research laboratories in resource-constrained settings for STD/HIV research, with special focus on countries with ongoing collaborative research projects.