Traineeships in AIDS Prevention Studies

The Traineeships in AIDS Prevention Studies (TAPS) program prepares scientists for academic and public health careers by offering two- and three-year postdoctoral fellowships in studies relating to the prevention of AIDS. The ARI provides fiscal support to the fellowship program in keeping with its mission to nurture the next generation of leaders. Offered through the UCSF Department of Medicine, TAPS is located at the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS). CAPS, with its unique combination of institutional resources and access to groundbreaking, state-of-the-art HIV research and researchers, provides an excellent environment for postdoctoral training. ARI provides financial support to this program; more information, including for applicants, can be found on the TAPS website.

Current TAPS Postdoctoral Fellows 

Natasha Ludwig-Barron, PhD, MPH, comes to the TAPS Fellowship with more than 10-years of public health research and practice experience. Her mentorship team includes Drs. John Sauceda (UCSF), Julia Lechuga (UTEP) and Elise Riley (UCSF), who offer expertise in HIV, substance use, Latinx health, and epidemiologic research methods along the US-Mexico Border. Dr. Ludwig-Barron is a mixed methods researcher whose research interests incorporate an ecological approach to understanding the syndemic of HIV/AIDS, substance use, and gender inequities, with the goal of improving the health and wellbeing of marginalized communities. After earning her MPH at Emory University, Dr. Ludwig-Barron completed a Hispanic-Serving Health Professions Schools (HSHPS) Fellowship where she conducted HIV and substance use research along the U.S.-Mexico Border in San Diego, CA, and later served as an Epidemiologist with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. She completed her doctorate in Epidemiology at the University of Washington, which was supported by a NIH Diversity Supplement. Her dissertation research focused on HIV-HCV risk environments and predictors of suboptimal HIV care among persons who inject drugs living with HIV (PWID-LH) in Kenya. As a TAPS Fellow, she has two pilot awards through the UCSF Resource Allocation Program (RAP) and Fordham University’s Research and Ethics Training Institute (RETI), where she will a) geospatially characterize sub-group of Latinx PWID using a HIV risk environment framework in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and b) highlight ethical research considerations when incorporating biometric enrollment technology into PWID communities.

Ahmad Danesh, MD, MPH, PhD, received his Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the School of Public Health at Tehran University of Medical Sciences (TUMS) after completing his master’s degree in public health at the University of Connecticut (UConn). As an assistant professor, he has teaching experience in epidemiology and research methodology at Golestan University of Medical Sciences (GoUMS). He also has ten years of experience treating substance abuse disorders as a medical practitioner in Iran. His research interest is alcohol dependency and its effect on HIV risky behaviors among HIV-vulnerable groups (e.g., PWID, MSM, FSW). In recent studies, he explored the prevalence of polysubstance abuse, specifically methamphetamine and alcohol consumption, among clients of Methadone Maintenance Treatment (MMT) centers. The findings have shown how much alcohol consumption could be prevalent among HIV-vulnerable groups, even in countries with alcohol consumption laws. He is now interested in exploring the effect of alcohol dependency on HIV transmission among HIV-vulnerable groups. As a TAPS fellow, he plans to identify the pervasiveness of alcohol consumption (binge drinking and harmful alcohol consumption) among PWID and MSM groups and its association with HIV-risky behaviors. He also plans to identify factors that could reduce or enhance the association between alcohol consumption and HIV-risky behaviors at the individual and community levels. The findings could be further analyzed for novel approaches to better address alcohol consumption among HIV-vulnerable groups, which may be needed for better controlling the HIV epidemic in the future.

Holly Nishimura, PhD, MPH, received her PhD from the Department of International Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Nishimura’s research interests include understanding the social and structural factors that contribute to inequalities in health outcomes globally, with a particular focus on gender and economic inequalities. She is also actively engaged in efforts to decolonize global health and improve equity and inclusion in academia. Her dissertation research used a mixed methods approach to understand the relationship between transactional sex and HIV among men in Rakai, Uganda. Dr. Nishimura received the Fulbright-Fogarty and Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) from NIMH for her predoctoral training. Prior to entering the PhD program, she received an M.P.H. in Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health and B.A. in Integrative Biology from UC Berkeley. As a TAPS fellow, she will be working with Dr. Carol Camlin on the Owete study, which uses a social network approach to promote HIV self-testing and linkage to care among fishermen at Lake Victoria.
Kristopher Jackson, PhD, is a nurse practitioner and nurse scholar who, over the last decade, has worked in a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, UCSF Medical Center, and California Pacific Medical Center. In December 2021, Kristopher completed his PhD in Nursing from the University of New Mexico after defending – with distinction – his doctoral dissertation entitled, “Advertised Health and Risk-Taking Behaviors of Internet-Based MSM Sex Workers in the United States.” As a PhD student, he coauthored several peer-reviewed studies exploring advertised risk taking among Internet-based MSM sex workers and topics related to sexual and gender minority healthcare. As a new TAPS fellow, Kristopher is currently enrolled in the 11-month Epidemiology MPH program at UC Berkeley. Kristopher has a particular interest in the use of novel data collection methods to gain insight into hidden and/or stigmatized populations of people at risk for HIV, as well as how to approach HIV and harm reduction practices in populations of individuals with multiple stigmatized, oftentimes intersecting social identities.
Neia Prata Menezes, PhD, MPH, received her Master’s degree in Global Epidemiology from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. She subsequently completed her PhD in Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Prata’s research explores behavioral, social, and structural barriers and facilitators to HIV prevention and treatment services among historically marginalized populations. For her doctoral dissertation, she evaluated whether injection drug networks inform HIV prevention behaviors of people who inject drugs (PWID) in India. Specifically, she assessed the roles of injection drug network size, position, and peer behaviors on PWID engagement in HIV testing, medication for opioid disorder, or syringe services. Prior to her dissertation, she worked as a research analyst within Global Health Sciences at UCSF to implement a variety of monitoring and evaluation and surveillance projects to characterize programmatic gaps among vulnerable populations across sub-Saharan and PEPFAR-funded countries. As a TAPS fellow, Dr. Prata hopes to build on her expertise and explore the design, implementation, and evaluation of social and behavioral interventions to improve access and utilization of HIV services among vulnerable groups. She is also interested in deepening her understanding of the intersection of stigma, substance use, and social support on the health outcomes of vulnerable populations.

Past TAPS Postdoctoral Fellows

Miranda Hill, PhD, MPH, received her PhD from the Department of Health Promotion and Behavior at the University of Georgia. Her dissertation explored support, affirmation, and ART adherence norms within the multiplex networks of trans women living with HIV in the U.S. Most of her work centers on examining and intervening upon systemic barriers to health equity among minoritized people living with HIV in the American South. She most enjoys working in interdisciplinary teams which bring scholars and community partners together to conduct innovative yet culturally responsive projects. During her MPH program, she worked with interdisciplinary policy teams to conduct mixed-methods Ryan A. White and Affordable Care Act evaluation studies, in addition to leading community-engaged rural health projects with stakeholders throughout Georgia. She was later granted the opportunity to combine her interests in HIV, networks, and Southern women’s health while designing a qualitative study exploring the networks of Black American trans and cis feminine people living with HIV in the Deep South under the mentorship of faculty at Duke University’s Social Network Analysis Center. Her experience with Southern urban HIV inequities evolved through her roles as a team member, ethnographer, and program consultant in the Georgia HIV Surveillance Unit at the Georgia Department of Health (CDC-NHBS). As she joined TAPS during the Summer of 2020, she was leading a community-engaged study of PrEP inequity determinants among Black American gay and bisexual men in Atlanta-metro (CDC-NHBS). Dr. Hill is enthusiastic to build collaborations with others within the UCSF community, while advancing an independent agenda focused on the networks of Black American trans and cis feminine people living with HIV in the South.

Franco Chevalier, MD, is an Infectious Diseases Clinical Fellow and TAPS Research Fellow at UCSF. He is currently completing his MPH at Berkeley through the TAPS fellowship. He completed his MD at Ross University School of Medicine and his Internal Medicine residency at Florida Atlantic University Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine. His research interests include HIV prevention as it relates to the LGBTQ+ community and more specifically amongst marginalized groups which include transgender individuals, the Latino, and African American community. He has a particular interest in Injectable PrEP as a form of HIV prevention as he firmly believes injectables to be the future of HIV treatment/prevention. Franco shares strong interest in minimizing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases amongst mentioned population. He is also passionate about identifying gaps within the healthcare system at the local, national, and global level and creating innovative ways to bridge the gaps caused by social determinants of health with the goal of improving healthcare outcomes in marginalized communities. He hopes to merge his passion for medicine and research and work as a clinician researcher. Dr. Chevalier has non-profit background experience both in Atlanta, GA and the south Florida region. He currently serves as the chair for the Board of Directors of Latinos Salud which is one of the largest non-profit organizations in south Florida serving Latino gay men. The organization provides free HIV testing, PrEP access as well as free STI testing and linkage to care to those newly diagnosed or living with HIV. He will be working with Hyman Scott evaluating PrEP choice amongst MSM and what goes behind the decision-making process for these individuals. He is also looking at potential collaborations in looking at Monkeypox infection and the difference in presentation among HIV positive vs. HIV negative individuals.
Glenda Baguso, PhD, RN, MPH, has been an Registered Nurse since 2005 and graduated with her PhD in Nursing from UCSF in September of 2017. She completed her MPH in Epidemiology at UC Berkeley during her TAPS fellowship, in 2019. Glenda’s research focuses on the factors that impact HIV care among marginalized populations, specifically the transgender community. Her graduate research focused on health disparities in transgender women living with HIV, with her dissertation addressing structural factors associated with poor health outcomes among transwomen living with HIV in San Francisco, as well as impacts of stigmatization and discrimination on the HIV care continuum in Transwomen. She is interested in using her fellowship training to improve on methods that increase recruitment of marginalized communities into research and increase engagement and retention to health care.
Anna M. Leddy, PhD, MHS completed her Master’s and Doctoral degrees in the Department of Health, Behavior and Society at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her research seeks to understand and intervene upon social and structural factors that contribute to HIV and limit engagement along the HIV care continuum. Most of her work is conducted in sub-Saharan Africa and involves vulnerable populations including adolescent girls, young women, and female sex workers. For her doctoral dissertation, Anna explored how aspects of the sex work environment, including stigma and discrimination towards sex workers and norms about substance use, shape sex workers’ risk for gender based violence and HIV. Her research is informed by social and behavioral theory and employs both qualitative and quantitative methods to gain a more nuanced understanding of the dynamics that increase risk for HIV and limit engagement in HIV care and treatment.
Chemtai Mungo, MD, MPH, studied Medicine at UCSF. She holds a Master’s of Public Health in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from Johns Hopkins University and completed her Residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Kaiser, San Francisco. As a Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellow, she had the opportunity of returning to her native Western Kenya to work with the FACES (Family AIDS Care and Education Services) team, mentored by Drs. Megan Huchko, Craig Cohen, and Elizabeth Bukusi, to study cervical cancer and improve access to screening and treatment for HIV positive women, who are disproportionately affected. While at FACES, she came to understand the powerful role of clinical research in filling in the data gap within weak health systems. In collaboration with in-country health leadership, clinical research has the ability to improve access and health outcomes. Consequently, Dr. Mungo pursued further training in Obstetrics and Gynecology, fueled by her commitment towards improving women’s health in resource-limited settings. As a TAPS fellow, Dr. Mungo has continued to work with the FACES/UCSF collaboration in advancing cervical cancer screening and prevention strategies among HIV infected women in Western Kenya. In Kenya, she is working with local leadership and collaborators to understand and enhance health systems serving women with a goal to advance equity and health for women in East Africa.
Sarah Puryear, MD, MPH, is an infectious disease fellow at UCSF and completed her MPH at UC Berkeley through the TAPS fellowship in 2019. Sarah completed her MD and residency training at Johns Hopkins. She received her BS in Microbiology from the University of Georgia. Sarah is a clinician-researcher focused on improving care for underserved and impoverished populations globally. Her research has concentrated on HIV and tuberculosis in Southern and East Africa. She was subsequently an Afya Bora Fellow with CDC-Nairobi, where she focused on HIV/TB program implementation and TB epidemiology. Working with research mentors Gabe Chamie and Diane Havlir, Sarah’s current research is focused on TB preventative strategies in HIV patients in Uganda and Kenya as well as characterizing TB infection in the era of HIV test and treat.
Edda I. Santiago-Rodríguez, DrPH, MPH, MA completed all her studies at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR). She has a master’s degree in Social-Community Psychology and another one in General Public Health. Her doctoral degree in Public Health was focused on Social Determinants of Health. For her doctoral dissertation, she completed a mixed methods study where she identified structural barriers and facilitators for HIV prevention services among young gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men in Puerto Rico. In the past, she was the STD/HIV Prevention Director and a Program Coordinator for the HIV Surveillance System at the Puerto Rico Department of Health. As a TAPS fellow, Edda plans to continue studying the impact of social determinants of health, including stigma, on the access and use of HIV Prevention Services among the Latino population in the US and Puerto Rico. Additionally, she plans to further develop her mixed methods research skills.
Sarah Gutin, PhD, has recently received her PhD from the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education at the University of Michigan School of Public Health under the mentorship of Dr. Gary Harper. Her dissertation focused on safer conception approaches for women living with HIV in Botswana. Her research interests focus on the intersection of reproductive health and HIV care in global contexts, family planning, fertility desires, and HIV stigma. Sarah has 15 years of experience leading and overseeing research as well as HIV and reproductive health projects in both the US and various sub-Saharan African countries, including South Africa, Uganda, Mozambique, and Botswana. Her prior research has focused on the use of family planning methods by women living with HIV in South Africa and Uganda. Sarah also has experience in monitoring and evaluating country programs on the prevention and care of obstetric fistula, family planning revitalization, and integration of family planning and HIV care. She has developed curricula about reproductive health, family planning, and Positive Prevention. Sarah has previously held positions at the San Francisco General Hospital with Dr. Karen Meckstroth, at the UCSF Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health with Dr. Jillian Henderson, and the UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS) where she was the HIV prevention coordinator for a CDC funded grant (under Dr. Carol Dawson Rose) that expanded Positive Prevention training for health care providers in Mozambique. Sarah begins her TAPS fellowship at CAPS in September 2019 under the mentorship of Dr. Carol Camlin. She will also work on the R01 Mobility and Risk in SEARCH Communities (Camlin) starting in August 2019.
Miranda Iverson Hill, PhD, received her PhD from the Department of Health Promotion and Behavior at the University of Georgia. Exploring social network support and medication adherence among transgender women living with HIV: The TRANSSFORM Study.” Her prior work includes designing and implementing a qualitative study exploring social influences on health and HIV treatment within networks of African American cis- and transgender women living with HIV. Her research interests center around social networks, HIV/AIDS, and gender disparities. While Dr. Hill is broadly interested in the networks of both cisgender and transgender women living with HIV (TWLH), her current focus is to contribute a holistic understanding of the social networks of TWLH. During her TAPS training, she is interested in building on this research by identifying interpersonal mechanisms which influence HIV treatment, such as social norms, social control, and violence. Additionally, her research goals include identifying the structure and characteristics of provider networks which optimize access and adherence to ART and evaluating the social epidemiology of syndemics within transgender communities through sociocentric network analysis. Miranda plans to begin her TAPS fellowship in early 2020.
Kimberly Hartson, PhD, completed her doctorate in social psychology at UC Santa Barbara with a focus on health psychology. Her interest in HIV began with an internship to develop and implement an HIV/AIDS educational curriculum focused on reducing HIV stigma in Lesotho. In grad school, her research focused on how individuals respond to threats and using psychological interventions to reduce stress and improve responses to potential threats. She received a Fulbright fellowship to return to Lesotho, where she conducted studies of ways to reduce HIV stigma among rural high school students, the correlates and consequences of stress associated with local political instability, and how to reduce stress and improve well-being among HIV-positive individuals. Her interests include psychological interventions to reduce stress among HIV-positive individuals and the physiological implications of this. Further, Kimberly is interested in how HIV stigma interacts with other stigma and high–HIV risk identities to influence HIV testing, adherence, disclosure and overall health and well-being.