The Training Program for Scientists Conducting Research to Reduce HIV/AIDS Health Disparities

Investigator: Torsten Neilands, PhD
Sponsor: NIH National Institute of Mental Health

Location(s): United States


This program addresses the urgent need to reduce HIV-related health disparities in the marginalized communities most affected by HIV. Our training program provides education and mentoring to early-career social and behavioral HIV researchers (hereafter Visiting Professors or VPs) who have demonstrated cultural expertise, a commitment to improving the health of communities affected by HIV, and are initiating innovative programs of research to advance the objectives of the Office of AIDS Research Annual Strategic Plan and program priorities of the NIMH Division of AIDS Research (DAR). The aims of this five-year project are to: 1) Support VPs in refining innovative ideas, concepts, and theories into clearly articulated and feasible HIV health disparities research with marginalized communities in line with NIMH/DAR priorities; 2) Fund an individualized applied research experience (ARE) to strengthen VPs' research capacity to disseminate results, which will accelerate their career trajectories and be used in NIH grant proposals; 3) Provide education, mentoring and technical assistance to VPs in the conceptualization, writing, submission, revision, and resubmission of NIH research proposals through use of an individual development plan (IDP), mentoring meetings, seminars, webinars, and peer networking; and 4) Provide ongoing individualized technical assistance and mentoring focused on research and career development through writing retreats and peer reviews to VPs who have completed the program. We will accomplish these aims through a research education and mentoring program at UCSF's Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS). The centerpiece of the proposed program is a summer training institute in which visiting professors, who have not yet obtained R01-level funding, participate in an intensive program over a three-year period. Each visiting professor is in residence at CAPS for six weeks for three consecutive summers. In the first summer, the program helps visiting professors develop their ideas into feasible programs of research and design and implement an applied research experience funded by the program. During the second summer VPs begin an NIH grant proposal. Following the second summer, they finalize their grant proposal and submit it to NIH. In the third summer, they revise and resubmit their proposals to NIH. The activities are additionally enhanced through webinars and meetings with faculty mentors scheduled during the academic year. Alumni receive additional support to remain in the HIV research pipeline through alumni peer reviews, writing retreats, and participation as alumni mentors in the summer institutes. The proposed program is well positioned to leverage CAPS' unique environment to provide tailored research education and mentoring in social/behavioral HIV research, assist program participants to become successful independent investigators, and simultaneously increase the diversity of HIV scientists.