Dear UCSF ARI Community,
As we begin to transition from spring to summer, I want to share some of the achievements made by our UCSF family in the last quarter, from conference highlights to research profiles to breaking news.
UCSF made an impressive showing at this year’s Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections. If you weren’t able to attend CROI in early March, be sure to review our conference report, which details some of the most exciting breaking prevention and adherence research findings made by members of our team.
In light of that, we’re gearing up for the 2018 International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam in late July, where a variety of our clinicians and researchers will be presenting posters, speaking on panels, and leading pre-conference sessions focused on cure. Keep an eye out for our conference report in early August, which will highlight some of the most important results and sessions.
Speaking of the IAC, one of the most exciting headlines this spring was the announcement that San Francisco and Oakland will co-host the 2020 International AIDS Conference. Truly a collaborative effort between community-based organizations, the department of public health, and industry, we’re very proud that UCSF served as the university and research representative on the bid committee. We’re eager to share developments as the preparations for AIDS2020 unfold, and members of the UCSF community step up to serve on planning and host committees.
In April, CFAR hosted its annual Future Leaders in HIV Symposium, dedicated to showcasing the work of those young researchers who participated in our CFAR Mentoring Program, which guides the defining of career scientific goals for junior faculty and postdoctoral scholars. As we do every year at this event, the CFAR honored four investigators with the Early Career Research Excellence Awards. This year, the awardees included Dr. Sulggi Lee for Excellence in Translational Science, Dr. Hyman Scott for Excellence in Clinical Research, Dr. Lillian Brown for Excellence in Behavioral Science, and Dr. Thomas Packard for Excellence in Basic Science – you can read brief synopses of their work on the program page to learn more about the foundational research in which they’re engaged.
Also in the realm of awards, ARI released the news of our 2018 cycle of Strategic Support Awards, Gilead HIV Cure Mentored Scientist Award, and the Award for Outstanding Teaching and Mentorship. Strategic Support Awards went to Drs. Carol Camlin, Ali Mirzazadeh, Meghan Morris, and Matthew Spinelli; Dr. Rachel Rutishauser received the Gilead HIV Cure Award; and the Award for Outstanding Teaching and Mentorship went to both Dr. Melanie Ott and Dr. Edwin Charlebois.
Showcasing the unique backgrounds and interests of our dedicated HIV investigators was the impetus of our Investigator Profiles series. In the last couple months, we highlighted the work of Dr. Moses Madadi and Dr. Susan Meffert. Madadi, a native of Kenya, is a prime example of how the investment in close, personalized mentoring can guide the early leaps in an investigator’s career – from an informal conversation with Dr. Craig Cohen, to a CFAR pilot award, to Pre-term Birth Initiative Fellow, there’s no question that Madadi is a part of the UCSF family and will continue to be a long-term collaborator in East Africa after his training is complete. Dr. Meffert, who completed her residency in psychiatry at UCSF, is profiled for her pioneering work in interpersonal therapy (IPT) among HIV-positive women suffering from PTSD due to domestic violence. Findings from one of her most recent interventions showed that regardless of adhering to medication, women suffering from PTSD and depression had significantly higher viral loads than those in better mental health, highlighting how mental health is inextricably linked to physical health.
Work in southern and eastern Africa featured prominently this season, as Dr. Elvin Geng and his team were profiled in our Research News for their work estimating true mortality in Zambia. The project, a collaboration with investigators at Georgetown University, underscored the complex implementation science challenges facing global health clinicians and researchers as they aim to initiate and sustain treatment for HIV+ individuals, and revealed that many patients on antiretroviral therapy were dying at alarming rates due primarily to such implementation obstacles. Dr. Sheri Lippman’s recent publication on HIV self-testing in South Africa detailed how putting control of testing into the hands of clients increases screening rates and subsequently, treatment initiation – and also revealed the importance of respecting the variety of approaches to seeking one’s HIV status.
Heading east to Kenya, the Family AIDS Care and Education Services (FACES) celebrated a key milestone – the transitioning of eight adolescent health centers to the Kenyan Ministry of Health in Kisumu. The full story is up on the ARI site, and underscores the importance of these centers through the eyes of a peer navigator – I encourage you to delve in.
I look forward to sharing further updates later this summer and introducing you to the season’s events.
Paul Volberding, MD
Director, AIDS Research Institute