CFAR News & Announcements
Kristina De Paris, PhD

UNC CFAR’s HIV/STD Core Associate Director, De Paris Receives Grant to Study HIV Vaccination in Infant Disease Models

The 7.5-million grant from the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases will help researchers pinpoint specific factors that lead to a better immune response through HIV vaccination. Kristina de Paris, PhD, Associate Director, UNC CFAR’s HIV/STD Core, and professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and colleagues were awarded a grant for their project entitled “Determinants of HIV broadly-neutralizing antibody precursor induction in infants. The grant, sponsored by the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), will provide them with $7.5 million in funding over the next five years. Using the grant, the research team will study changes in the infant rhesus macaque’s antibody response after receiving different HIV vaccine components called adjuvants. They will also be studying the interactions between host immunity and naturally occurring bacteria in the microbiome, in response to vaccination. “Our goal is to identify innate and microbial factors that impact B

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Highlights from the 2023 HPTN Annual Meeting

UNC CFAR was well presented at the 2023 HPTN Annual Meeting! UNC CFAR’s Associate Director, the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN’s) Principle Investigator Myron Cohen, and UNC CFAR’s Clinical Core Director Joseph Eron provided key leadership roles during the 2023 HPTN Annual Meeting in Washington DC. The week-long event gathered more than 800 registered in-person and virtual attendees to celebrate the progress and consider future research to reduce the acquisition and transmission of HIV. The HPTN Annual Meeting brought together hundreds of researchers, collaborators, community representatives, and government health officials to engage in meaningful discussions regarding the Network’s scientific agenda and current and planned HIV prevention research studies. The HPTN Community Working Group weekend sessions featured best practices for community engagement, community advisory board involvement, and study participant recruitment and retention. The plenary sessions at the meeting covered a variety of topics, including: Biomedical agents for HIV prevention Sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention among communities

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UNC CFAR’s Biostatistics Core director Dr. Michael Hudgens honored with the 2023 Larsh Award

Michael Hudgens, PhD, is the winner of the 2023 Larsh Award. Established in 1997, the John E. Larsh Jr. Award for Mentorship recognizes a current member of the Gillings School faculty who best exemplifies the qualities of mentoring and commitment to students that Dr. Larsh embodied and valued so highly. Larsh was a health behavior faculty member from 1942 to 1981. The $4,500 prize may be used in any way that enhances the faculty member’s ability to mentor and support students. UNC CFAR’s Biostatistics Core Director, Michael, received the 2023 Larsh Award. He has experience in collaborative research and statistical methodology development related to studies of infectious diseases Learn more about what students had to say about Dr. Hudgens “His advising style is fine-tuned and key to his student’s successes and positive outcomes,” wrote one nominator. “He sets high, yet reasonable standards for his students and then gives them the tools

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Dennis Research Group Releases New White Paper On Molecular HIV Epidemiology

The Dennis Research Group in the School of Medicine has released a new white paper titled, “Revitalizing Community Engagement in the Public Health Use of Molecular HIV Epidemiology.” The paper is a product of the UNC Ethics of HIV Molecular Surveillance Project, funded through an administrative supplement to the NIAID-funded R01 Phylodynamics Response, Monitoring, & Prevention of Transmission (HIV PROMPT; PI Ann Dennis, R01Al135970). The research team engaged with diverse stakeholders in North Carolina, including community members living with HIV, health care providers, public health leaders and professionals, community advocates, and bioethicists, through a multi-phase engagement process.  The white paper was prepared by the PROMPT Bioethics Study Team, which includes Dennis, Suzanne Day, PhD, MA; Stuart Rennie, PhD; and Kristen Sullivan, PhD. Read more

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CDC-UNC Collaboration Yields Potential Long-term HIV Protection

Rahima Benhabbour, PhD, MSc, associate professor of Biomedical Engineering, led a successful effort to create an injectable implant that can release effective HIV PrEP medications into the body for six months in non-human primates. For people at high risk of contracting HIV, missing doses of their daily HIV prevention pills can have big consequences. In some cases, missing a pill can lead to lack of protection against the virus. Since 2017, the lab of Rahima Benhabbour, PhD, MSc, associate professor in the UNC/NCSU Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering, has been working with a research team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) consisting of J. Gerardo García-Lerma, MSc, PhD, Ivana Massud, PhD, and Charles Dobard, PhD and others at UNC, to develop an injectable implant that can release HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medications into the body for a long period of time. Their latest research, published in Nature

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Alumni Gift Will Fund New Clinic in Malawi, Enhancing Research and Care for Reproductive Health and Sexually Transmitted Infections

February 22, 2023 A generous gift from Hyman and Marietta Bielsky will fund a new clinic in Malawi for reproductive health and sexually transmitted infections. The new clinic will replace a 50-year-old infrastructure for sexually transmitted disease research and care, the place where UNC’s global health work began. Long-lived friendships are special connections with those who knew you back when. But even more special is the rare friendship that extends beyond college and adulthood, and even rarer leaves a trail of good that can impact generations to come. When Professor Irving Hoffman, PA, MPH, Director of International Operations for the Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases (IGHID), and International Director of UNC Project Malawi, called up his long-time friend Hyman Bielsky (‘76) in Sunny Isles, Florida, he wanted to talk about fundraising for a new reproductive health clinic in Malawi. He hoped he might tap into Hyman’s business expertise to get ideas about fundraising. He

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Dr. Jeff Stringer Awarded Third Grant from Gates’ Foundation

In 2018, Jeff received the first Fetal Age Machine Learning Initiative (FAMLI) grant, a feasibility investment concerned primarily with automated estimation of gestational age. It focused upon generation of specific ultrasound datasets to train machine learning models and on scoping additional functions and features of an AI-enabled ultrasound system. In 2019, a second FAMLI grant extended the investment in data collection, expanded the resources available for machine learning, and introduced new partnerships with companies developing low-cost, handheld ultrasound solutions. As a result of this work, UNC developed a successful blind sweep gestational age estimation model that outperforms expert sonographers and has just launched a field validation of this gestational age tool in Chapel Hill and in Zambia. The new FAMLI 3 award provides $17 million over 4 years for UNC to significantly expand this work. The primary goal of this award is the development and validation of one or more multi-functional, AI-enabled, automated, low-cost ultrasound devices,

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UNC School of Medicine Names 2021-22 Yang Family Biomedical Scholars

This story was originally posted on July 5, 2022 on the UNC School Of Medicine Newsroom website, which is linked HERE. Mauro Calabrese, PhD, Nilu Goonetilleke, PhD, and Adam Hantman, PhD, were selected as Yang Family Biomedical Scholars in the sixth installment of this annual School of Medicine award. The UNC School of Medicine has named three outstanding researchers as recipients of the sixth annual Yang Family Biomedical Scholars Award. They are: Mauro Calabrese, PhD, associate professor of pharmacology, Nilu Goonetilleke, PhD, associate professor of microbiology and immunology, and Adam Hantman, PhD, associate professor of cell biology and physiology. Calabrese is a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Goonetilleke is a member of the UNC HIV Cure Center, and Hantman is a member of the UNC Neuroscience Center. Each faculty member will receive a generous grant to be used at their discretion for biomedical research projects at the

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