Funding Opportunity: UCSF Population Health and Health Equity Scholars

UCSF Population Health and Health Equity Scholars

These pilot awards go to support innovative research or programming already underway and led by the scholars. Distributed via various centers and departments, this funding opportunity was established for assistant professors conducting scholarship with potential population health impact, and offers opportunities for them be participate in innovative training and other events to showcase their work.

ARI provides funding for two awards each year in the field of HIV research. The current Request for Applications for the 2024 cohort of PHHE scholars is currently live. Please click on this link to view the application (application link to be updated shortly). Applications are due by 11:59 pm PST on November 30, 2023, and all applicants and selected Scholars will be notified of the results by mid-December.

To learn more about the program and see all past scholars (ARI-funded scholars are listed below), please click here:

If you have any questions about the program, please reach out to [email protected].

2023 Awardees

Alison Comfort, PhD: How social networks may differentially affect contraceptive decision-making depending on sero-status: evidence from women in rural Uganda  

Abstract: Social networks represent the social relationships individuals have within their communities. Social networks can affect contraceptive decision-making by providing social support, and they can impact these behaviors through social influence including making salient social norms. However, there is very little knowledge about how the role of social networks and contraception differs for women living with HIV compared to those who are HIV-negative. I will conduct a cross-sectional, quantitative social network study among reproductive-aged women in rural Uganda to understand the relationship between social network structure and composition and contraceptive decision-making, including variation by sero-status. I will also explore whether social support versus social influence affects contraceptive decision-making and if this varies by sero-status. This study will provide the foundations for developing, pilot-testing and evaluating a social network-based intervention focused specifically on ensuring access to contraceptive care, including adaptations based on different needs and roles of social networks by individuals’ sero-status.  

About Dr. Comfort: Dr. Comfort is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences and an affiliate of the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health. Trained as a health economist, she focuses on understanding how individual- and social network factors affect care-seeking with the goal of developing interventions that harness the role of social networks. Her research is focusing on antenatal care use, infant HIV testing, COVID-19 vaccine uptake, and contraceptive decision-making. She leads studies in the Uganda, Madagascar, and the US.

Pam Murnane, PhD: Closing the gaps in perinatal HIV transmission 

Abstract: For pregnant and postpartum women living with HIV, antiretroviral treatment (ART) optimizes health and prevents perinatal transmission. Despite near universal access to ART globally, critical gaps in prevention of perinatal transmission remain. Person centered care is increasingly recognized as an essential strategy to closing the gaps in HIV service delivery and ongoing perinatal HIV transmission. Leveraging programmatic data from an HIV treatment program in Kisumu County, Kenya, which implemented novel person-centered interventions for pregnant and breastfeeding women living with HIV, we will quantify maternal and infant HIV outcomes before and after implementation. In this observational pre-post analysis, we will assess potential biases via external data sources within Kenya across the same time period. We anticipate that this work will provide important information regarding the potential impact of person-centered interventions on maternal care engagement and HIV transmission in resource limited settings. 

About Dr. Murnane: Dr. Murnane completed her doctoral training in epidemiology at the University of Washington, followed by 2 years in South Africa engaged in a novel study examining implementation and clinical impacts of infant HIV diagnosis at birth and early treatment initiation. She joined the faculty at UCSF in 2019, and her research focusses on biological, behavioral, and structural factors that influence maternal and child health outcomes in the context of HIV in resource limited settings. She has expertise in medication adherence measurement, risk prediction, and epidemiologic methods, and is currently the PI of a K01 Award aiming to identify implementation strategies to deliver targeted adherence support for pregnant and postpartum women living with HIV in western Kenya. 

2022 Awardees

Paul Wesson, PhD: Investigating psychiatric and neighborhood-level inequities in the HIV continuum of care in San Francisco

Abstract: As San Francisco (and similar “Fast Track Cities”) continues to make overall gains in preventing new HIV infections and improving treatment outcomes for people living with HIV, population health researchers must be vigilant against emerging and widening disparities among disadvantaged populations. People with severe mental illness (SMI) face up to a 10-fold higher probability of HIV acquisition compared to people without SMI, although evidence is mixed regarding worse outcomes in the HIV continuum of care for this population. This study seeks to fill this gap in the literature through leveraging a recently constructed retrospective cohort of people living with HIV (PLWH) in San Francisco to statistically model and test for differences in HIV care engagement outcomes for PLWH with SMI compared to PLWH without SMI. Results from this analysis and others using this cohort will inform targeted interventions to reduce emerging inequities in HIV care.

About Dr. Wesson: Dr. Wesson is an epidemiologist focused on quantifying the health burdens of (and disparities related to) hard-to-reach and socially marginalized populations, particularly as they relate to infectious diseases. His research expertise includes developing and using data driven methods for sampling hard-to-reach and “hidden” populations, population size estimation methods, and using advanced epidemiologic and statistical techniques to study the social determinants of health. As an HIV researcher, Dr. Wesson’s research agenda relates to the unique challenges of sampling hard-to-reach populations for HIV surveillance, and leverages information from the sampling process (and survey data) to generate estimates of the population size.

Sofia Zamudio-Haas, DrPH: Culturally tailored, HIV health communication materials for trans women

Abstract: Transgender populations, in particular transgender women, have largely been left out of advancements in HIV care and treatment. Transgender women continue to shoulder the heaviest burden of HIV incidence and prevalence, despite available medications. A lack of culturally tailored, population-specific health communication is a key structural barrier that contributes to HIV disparities. This PHHE project supplements an Ending the HIV Epidemic (ETE) implementation science study to develop, test, and refine Spanish and English health information messages for trans women. Drawing on interviews conducted as part of the ETE study, we will analyze gaps in information, barriers, and facilitators to care and develop HIV testing, PrEP and ART messages. We will test these messages in focus groups with transgender women, refining and piloting materials as part of the EHE study. Findings will be published and used to develop an R34 proposal to scale-up and test effective multimedia HIV health information messages for this marginalized group.

About Dr. Zamudio-Haas: Dr. Zamudio-Haas’ research interests lie in increasing access and uptake of HIV prevention and treatment services for most affected populations in the US and globally, including gender and sexual minorities, people who inject drugs, and young women and girls. Engaging participatory and community-led methods, as well as quality improvement strategies, her work focuses on generating innovations and adapting care programs to meet the needs of marginalized populations, with the goal of reducing HIV health disparities. Her current work focuses on increasing access to culturally tailored and population specific HIV prevention and care services for transgender women.

2021 Awardees

Carrie Chan, MSN, CPNP: PrEP Facilitators, Barriers, and Preferences: Perspectives from San Francisco Bay Area Youth

Orlando Harris, PhD, RN, FNP, MPH: “Our Lives Matter”: Exploring Barriers and Facilitators to COVID-19 vaccination and the Impact of the Pandemic on Black/African American Sexual Minority Men

2020 Awardees

Catherine Koss, MD

Judy Tan, PhD

More information for interested applicants can be found on the Population Health and Equity website.