Mentoring Multidisciplinary Patient-Oriented Research in Engagement in HIV Care

Sponsor: NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease

Location(s): Kenya; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe


Long term retention and engagement in HIV care is crucial for the success of global HIV treatment programs. Over the last seven years, I have assembled a robust, R01-funded research portfolio addressing engagement in care. In this application, I propose to build a program to mentor trainees to enter and sustain a career in patient oriented research addressing the HIV epidemic. I plan a multi-dimensional mentoring roadmap integrated with additional scientific resources at UCSF and beyond. I propose additional training for myself as well in order to become a better mentor and scientist. Finally, I propose new science to better understand the concept of resilience and long term retention, which is designed to support mentees with preliminary data and platforms for additional research.

I seek support from a K24 Award to build a mentoring program in patient oriented research to enhance engagement in HIV treatment globally. At present, I lead robust research activities supported by diverse mechanisms (including NIH R01 & U01, HRSA, and Gates Foundation) with over 1.5 million dollars a year of direct funding. I am leading work in the US as well as four African countries (Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Zambia), some within established scientific networks (e.g., International Epidemiologic Databases to Evaluate AIDS). This growing research portfolio has created abundant opportunities to mentor trainees, including post-doctoral fellows supported by T32 and D43 mechanisms, pre-doctoral students, and those from international partner organizations (e.g., Makerere University in Kampala). With support from a K24 Award, I would offer a comprehensive but adaptable blueprint for mentorship, with a focus on guiding investigators across two critical thresholds: first, for fellows establishing a research career through obtaining a K23 Career Development Award, and second, sustaining a research career through subsequent R01 level funding. My mentorship model is based both on individual meetings as well as assembly of a team of mentors who can meet diverse technical, professional and personal needs. In addition, within UCSF, I plan to integrate the proposed mentoring with existing resources for training supported by the UCSF CTSI and the Center for AIDS Research. Outside of UCSF, I will introduce mentees into flourishing research consortia in which I am active (e.g., IeDEA and CNICS) as well as into public health implementing organizations (e.g., Center for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia) where they can access multi-site data and develop independent scientific projects and professional relationships. To improve my mentoring, I will form an advisory committee of senior faculty at UCSF who will offer feedback and evaluation on my mentoring using evidence-based metrics of success. At present, I receive eight to ten requests for mentorship each year and have only been able to accept two to three because my effort is fully taken by project specific research roles, clinical duties and administrative obligations. Support from a K24 will allow me to accept up to eight total mentees a year. This would include serving as primary mentor to 1 post-doctoral fellow and secondary mentor to 2-3 fellows and other pre-doctoral residents and students. In particular, a K24 will allow me to dedicate more time to the most intensive mentorship relationships with post doctoral fellows competing for K23 Career Development Awards as well those seeking transition from K23 to R01 level funding and full scientific independence.