Center For AIDS Research

August 25, 2015: Special Edition

The Network News
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Special Issue: August 25, 2015
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This special issue of the Network News is dedicated to Change and Transformation.

Article links:

Carlos del Rio named CFAR PI
Hannah Cooper tapped to Co-Direct CFAR Prevention Science Core
Igho Ofotokun, Colleen Kelley, Vince Marconi, Wendy Armstrong join Clinical Core
Bob Lyles recruited to Direct Biostatistics Core
HIV and Aging Scientific Working Group (SWG) grows up
Non-Human Primate Models for HIV Pathogenesis and Vaccines SWG evolves

Divider Rule Quote of the Day ...

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future. -John F. Kennedy

Divider Rule ADMINISTRATIVE CORE: Turn, Turn, Turn ...
CFAR Co-Directors     

As all savvy CFARians know, the CFAR at Emory is led by three Co-Directors who are [shown here from left to right] Carlos del Rio (Co-Director for Clinical Science and International Research), Jim Curran (Co-Director for Social Science and HIV Policy), and Eric Hunter (Co-Director for Basic Science and Translational Research).

What those of you new(er) to the CFAR may NOT have known is that Eric was serving as PI of the CFAR at UAB at the time he was recruited to Emory in 2005 and that Jim has served as PI of the CFAR at Emory since its founding in 1998, so ... it is only fair that Carlos gets a turn!

So, "in a valiant effort," as Jim says, "to lower the collective average age of CFAR PI's nationwide," he and Eric have tapped Carlos to take over as CFAR PI effective this month (i.e. the beginning of our current fiscal year).

This change is part of the normal implementation of our CFAR succession plan and will not materially alter the operation of the CFAR going forward as all CFAR leadership decisions have always been, and will continue to be, made by consensus among the Troika.

Carlos del Rio

     Carlos del Rio

BTW: Carlos already has a lot of practice in the PI biz, having served as PI or MPI on a number of complex grants, including the AIDS International Training and Research Program (AITRP) (D43TW001042), the Emory Center for Public Health Training in Complex Humanitarian Emergencies (T01GH001185), the Emory-Ethiopia Global Interdisciplinary Partnership (R24TW008825), the Emory Atlanta Gonococcal Isolate Surveillance Project (H25PS004311), and the Emory-Duke-Orlando-CDC (EmDOC) Clinical Trials Unit (UM1AI069418).

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Divider Rule PREVENTION SCIENCE CORE: Reaping What We Sowed...

Hannah Cooper

Hannah Cooper     

When Core Co-Director Gina Wingood left Atlanta for Columbia University the CFAR Co-Directors took about a nanosecond to come to consensus on a replacement -- they had, after all, been growing a perfect one for the last 8 years! RSPH Department of Behavioral Science and Health Education (BSHE) Vice Chair Hannah Cooper has been an active CFARian ever since her first funding from the CFAR Developmental Core was awarded less than a year after she was recruited to BSHE in 2007. Funding, by the way, that she promptly converted into an R21 (R21DA027072) and an R01 (R01DA029513). Yowser!

During her eight years with the CFAR Hannah has become an internationally known expert in applying advanced multilevel, geospatial, and qualitative methods to study the social determinants of HIV with a major focus on how place characteristics and social policies relate to racial/ethnic disparities in HIV/AIDS-related outcomes among people who use drugs. Our prediction for the future? Pairing Hannah with the Core's other Co-Director Patrick Sullivan will only serve to further enhance the CFAR's long-standing reputation as a national leader in cutting-edge services in support of innovative HIV/AIDS prevention research.

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Divider Rule CLINICAL RESEARCH CORE: The Fab Four...

Igho Ofotokun: Co-Director
Colleen Kelley: Associate Director, Clinical and Translational Research
Vince Marconi: Associate Director, HIV Disease Registry Research; Site Director, VAMC
Wendy Armstrong: Site Director, Ponce IDP

John, Paul, George, and Ringo ... Hearts, Spades, Diamonds, and Clubs ... Adenine, Guanine, Cytosine, and Thymine ... Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water. It's fairly clear that Four is a VERY powerful number. As additional proof of that, allow us to introduce you to the four newest members of the Clinical Research Core's leadership team:

Igho Ofotokun     

Igho Ofotokun: Replacing Mark Mulligan, who requested to step down as Core Co-Director but will remain active in the CFAR's scientific leadership, Igho is joining Clinical Core Co-Director Jeff Lennox in overall oversight of the Core. Synergistic with his Clinical Core role, Igho is MPI of Emory's Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) and Program Director of a waiting-on-the-NGA grant for Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health (BIRCHW). Igho's research also focuses on antiretroviral clinical pharmacology and long-term complications of HIV infection (R01AG040013; R56HL126558).

     Colleen Kelley

Colleen Kelley: will serve as Associate Core Director for Clinical and Translational Research, with oversight of the service center arm of the Core. Colleen's research focuses on rectal mucosal susceptibility to HIV and on biomedical prevention interventions such as PrEP. Her CFAR funding reflects these interests; she is the recipient of a Developmental Core CFAR-K award to turbocharge her NIH-funded work in defining the rectal mucosa in MSM at risk for HIV (K23AI108335) and two NIH CFAR administrative supplements; one to define the rectal microbiome in MSM and one to advance PrEP delivery in MSM.

Vince Marconi     

Vince Marconi: has taken on two roles in the Clinical Core; as Director of the VAMC CFAR site, following Dave Rimland's retirement, and as Associate Core Director for HIV Disease Registry Research, a position which encompasses shepherding the nascent Registry from concept to functional HIV research tool. Vince's own research focuses on the biological, social and behavioral conditions that lead to disparities in HIV treatment response. He is also interested in ART and HIV persistence (R01AI110334; MPI) and HIV drug resistance in Kwazulu, Natal South Africa (R01AI098558; MPI).

     Wendy Armstrong

Wendy Armstrong: is formalizing her role in the Clinical Core as Director of the CFAR Site at the Ponce IDP, where she serves as Medical Director. Wendy's research focuses on disparities in access to, and utilization of, health care by vulnerable, HIV-infected populations. In keeping with this she currently has NIH CFAR funding to determine if causes for falling off the continuum of care at the Ponce, VA, and Emory Midtown IDPs differ across systems despite minimal geographic distance, and if the identification of traditional and non-traditional risk factors can provide initial data toward developing a predictive "rule" for retention.

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Divider Rule BIOSTATISTICS CORE: B is for Bootstrap...

Bob Lyles

Bob Lyles     

Q: What stands between Science and Superstition?
A: Statistics.
This isn't just alphabetically correct, it is functionally true. To whit, statistical methods are what help researchers (and the organizations that pay for research, and the journals that publish research, and the professionals that act on research findings...) distinguish between wishful thinking and data-driven insights.

The good news is that guarding your research against the trap of wishful thinking is exactly what the CFAR Bios Core does best (just ask everyone whose fundable score on CFAR or NIH review can be traced back to Associate Core Director Kirk Easley's assistance) and it's only getting better.

When Robert (Bob) Lyles recently stepped into the role of Biostats Core Director, filling a position vacated by longtime Core Director Mike Kutner, CFAR gained a seasoned administrator (former Director of the ACTSI's Biostatistics, Epidemiology, & Research Design (BERD) Core) and a talented researcher. Bob's research interests include accounting for laboratory non-detects and adjusting for missing, mismeasured, and misclassified data (RC4NR012527) as well as the nuanced analytical considerations to consider when laboratory samples are pooled to benefit cost-efficiency in epidemiological studies.

In addition to scientific oversight of the Core Bob will focus on partnering with Vince Marconi and the Clinical Research Core on the development of best practices for CFAR research conducted using HIV Disease Registry data.

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Divider Rule HIV & AGING SWG: Pomp & Circumstance...

Cue the music and bring on the diploma ... the HIV & Aging Interdisciplinary Research Group (IRG) has grown up and graduated to Scientific Working Group (SWG) status. Yay!!! Over the course of three years, and under the Co-Directorship of Molly Perkins and Marcia Holstad, the IRG proved to be extremely adept at bringing gerontology investigators into HIV/AIDS research and HIV/AIDS investigators into Aging research, fulfilling the cross-disciplinary concept of a SWG.

In 2013 the IRG successfully competed for NIH funding (R13AG047064) for a 2-day conference ("HIV & Aging: From the Mitochondria to the Metropolis") that drew over 140 attendees from across the country. Next up: leveraging the SWG's working relationships with Emory's Center for Health in Aging, the Atlanta Regional Geriatric Education Center, and the Center for Neurocognitive Studies to generate more NIH funding applications.

Molly Perkins     

SWG Co-Director Molly Perkins, an R01-funded gerontologist, received her first funding in AIDS from the CFAR Developmental Core in 2014 ("Social Determinants of Health of Veterans Living and Aging with HIV in Georgia") followed by additional funding in 2015 through an NIH CFAR admin supplement award for "HIV & Aging in the Deep South: A Focus on Social Determinants of Health." As these projects indicate, Molly is interested in applying her research expertise in social determinants of health and health disparities, minority aging, and long-term care to populations with HIV/AIDS.

     Marcia Holstad

SWG Co-Director Marcia McDonnell Holstad is the Marcia Stanhope Professor of Public Health in Nursing, Assistant Director for Clinical and Social Science Integration for the CFAR, and an extremely adept "talent scout" for the CFAR Developmental Core. She is a long-time clinician at the Ponce IDP and is currently PI on two NIH studies, one assessing an audio music self management program to improve ART adherence in rural Georgia (R01NR012923) and one to assess the effects of early palliative care and motivational interviewing on recently diagnosed persons with AIDS (R01NR014054)

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Divider Rule NON-HUMAN PRIMATE MODELS FOR HIV PATHOGENESIS AND VACCINES SWG: The SWG is Dead, Long Live the SWG...

The NIH CFAR's concept of a scientific working group is that it form around a cross-disciplinary area of HIV/AIDS research, generate sustained interest and new NIH funding in that area among CFAR investigators, and then be retired to make room for a new SWG.

Guido Silvestri     

Under the leadership of Guido Silvestri, members of the NHP SWG successfully competed for a major NIH award (U19AI096187) shortly after the SWG's inception and have recently submitted it's competitive renewal application. Having initiated sustained interest in the area, the SWG changed its primary focus to mentoring the next generation of NHP researchers and, in collaboration with the Developmental Core, engaged in a competitive process to identify and develop leading candidates. Five NIH SWG mentees identified since 2012 have subsequently been awarded their first funding in HIV/AIDS and/or primate studies. These include:

Stephen Bosinger:
NIH R21 to study the experimental depletion of plasmacytoid dendritic cells in SIV infection(R21AI118542)

Sid Byrareddy:
NIH R01 to study the role of HIV Env glycosylation in mucosal transmission" (R01AI113883)

Ann Chahroudi:
CFAR-03 funding, to examine hormone induced lactation to study breast mild-related vertical SIV transmission, and NIH R56 fundng for targeting beta-catenin to disrupt the T-memory cell (R56AI117851)

Christina Gavegnano:
CFAR-03 funding to look at targeted depletion of macrophages to eliminate viral sanctuaries

Jyothi Rengarajan:
NIH R01 funding to study the pertubation of antigen-specific T-cell responses in latent TB/SIV co-infection (R01AI111943)

Having met all of their goals the Non-human Primate SWG has been declared a blazing success and is being retired with honors, per NIH CFAR policy.

But wait! There's more!

     Raymond Schinazi

The momentum generated by the NHP SWG will continue through a new partnership with Raymond Schinazi, Director of the HIV Reservoirs and Eradication SWG. Raymond set up the first HIV laboratory at Emory University and pursued the development of novel antiviral drugs where, alongside his collaborators, he developed two key drugs to treat HIV infection, Lamivudine (3TC) and emtricitabine (FTC), which are critical components of regimens received by > 94 % of HIV-infected individuals in the U.S., effectively transforming HIV from a death sentence into a manageable chronic disease for large numbers of people world wide.

Guido and Raymond are international leaders in their respective fields and will Co-Direct a new expanded SWG focused on Cure, HIV Reservoirs and Eradication. Their combined expertise and leadership is sure to create the robust research environment needed to put Emory at the forefront of this critical HIV/AIDS research area.

In fact their teamwork has already resulted in new funding to support a promising junior faculty member -- Raymond recently received news from NIH that he has been granted a Research Supplement to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research to support the development of Erica Johnson, one of the next-gen investigators first identified through the NHP SWG process, on his grant for therapeutics targeting macrophages/microglia to eradicate CNS HIV-1 reservoirs (R01MH100999). According to the NIH email: "The review committee found Dr. Johnson to be a promising candidate who will have access to an excellent research environment and mentoring team." We couldn't agree more!

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The Network News is a periodic email, detailing HIV/AIDS related events, funding opportunities, and achievements of CFAR members. If you have items that you wish to have included, please send them to us at cfar@emory.edu by Friday of each week. Please put "The Network News" in the subject line.

The Network News is distributed to CFAR members and fans by email every Monday. Except when it isn't.

Editor, Kimberley (Kimbi) Sessions Hagen, EdD

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