The success of modern antiretroviral therapy has converted HIV from a near-certain death sentence to a chronic manageable condition that allows the majority of patients in care to live near-normal lifespans. As a result, scientific agendas have moved from development of more ARV drugs similar to those available now to development of new drugs that have fewer long-term adverse effects, those that can be given at expanded intervals (e.g., monthly), and development of agents that can cure HIV (Drug Discovery). Clinical scientific agenda have also morphed into the study of the Natural History of HIV in the Treatment Era, with a heavy focus on the Pathogenesis and management of multiple comorbid conditions, long-term ARV toxicities, and issues related to aging, as our patient population grows older. HIV Prevention efforts continue to focus ondevelopment, testing and identification of novel HIV vaccines, microbicides, and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Community Prevention efforts include novel “Seek, Test and Treat” strategies based on new knowledge about controlling transmission through treatment. Ensuring service to these 4 overarching pillars of scientific research (depicted on red ribbon) unifies our purpose and aligns our research goals with those of the National AIDS Strategy and the HIV scientific community.
Employing Interdisciplinary Research Groups (IRGs) serves as critical management tools to create new, dynamic programs that align emerging trends in HIV research with our stated mission and research goals. Such groups are initiated by our Executive Committee and are supported with developmental funding. Join our mailing list for information on such opportunities.
Access to unique national research networks is facilitated by organizational support from the UAB CFAR provided to programs such as the Alabama Clinical Trials Unit (A-CTU), our newly funded Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) site, CNICS, NA-ACCORD and CNIHR. Contact us for more information or use the tabs below for additional information and links to the websites for these networks.
The UAB 1917 Clinic Cohort is a prospective cohort study established in 1992 that includes HIV positive individuals who receive primary and subspecialty care at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) 1917 Clinic. Situated in the US Deep South, the UAB 1917 Clinic Cohort provides unique insights into a region bearing a disproportionate burden of the domestic HIV epidemic. The multidisciplinary investigative team also partners with national and international investigators playing a pivotal role in large scale, multi-site collaborative cohort studies.
The success of the 1917 Clinic Cohort over the years is directly attributable to the talent and enthusiasm of the Cohort Team that includes individuals from a diverse array of backgrounds who work together on a daily basis to collectively advance the scientific agenda.
For more information: http://www.uab1917cliniccohort.org
The UAB CFAR is committed to providing the most modern, up to date, therapeutic and prevention interventions to patients and at-risk populations in our State. A hallmark of this work has been collaborative, highly interactive, multidisciplinary research that bridges work from the laboratory to the clinic. In 2005, CFAR formed the Alabama-Clinical Trials Unit (A-CTU), a partnership of UAB investigators dedicated to the conduct of high-impact HIV-related studies in a resource poor region of the United States. The A-CTU was recently refunded for another 7 years in 2013. The A-CTU conducts studies associated with three clinical trials networks, including the HVTN (HIV Vaccine Trials Network), the ACTG (AIDS Clinical Trials Group, and the MTN, Microbicides Trials Network. Trials conducted by the A-CTU are housed on the main campus of the UAB School of Medicine, within the facilities of the UAB 1917 Clinic. For more information on clinical studies, visit the UAB 1917 Clinic website or the Alabama Vaccine Research Clinic (AVRC) website.
The CFAR Network of Integrated Clinical Systems (CNICS) project is the first electronic medical records-based resource network poised to integrate clinical data from the large and diverse population of HIV-infected persons in the modern HAART era who are receiving care at one of the US-funded Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) sites.
As a clinic-based research network, CNICS directly reflects the outcomes of clinical decisions and management options made daily in the care of HIV infected individuals. Unlike data collected in structured interviews or through retrospective medical record review, CNICS captures a broader range of information associated with the rapidly changing course of HIV disease management through collection of data at the point-of-care. A single, fully integrated database links each patient record to a diverse collection of clinical, behavioral, and biological data. The flexibility of this consortium enables CNICS to address scientific questions that cannot be answered through any other collaborative cohorts. Each CNICS site utilizes a point-of-care electronic health record (EHR) system to organize, record, and plan for the care of all HIV+ patients, including those who would not typically be eligible for clinical trials or more traditional, selective HIV cohorts. CNICS capitalizes upon these existing EHR systems, which at most sites have captured clinical data since 1995, and combine them into a single research enterprise. Funded by an R24 infrastructure award in 2006, CNICS has evolved to become a fully mature platform that can support translational, clinical, and behavioral research projects from any investigator who desires to use the platform as part of their funded research projects or as part of a pilot project to gain further research support.
For more information, please check the CNICS website.
Dr. Michael Saag is Co-PI for The North American AIDS Cohort Collaboration on Research and Design (NA-ACCORD). This network is part of the International Databases to Evaluate AIDS (IEDEA) RFA.
The NA-ACCORD is designed to be widely representative of HIV care in the United States and Canada. The network includes investigators who have a high level of scientific expertise and clinical experience, and has an efficient structure for harmonization of data and the conduct of analyses.
The Women's Interagency HIV Study, WIHS, began in 1993 to investigate the impact of HIV infection on women in the United States. It is the largest and longest ongoing U.S. study of HIV-infected women. The study receives support from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Center for Research Resources, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The original WIHS clinical sites are located in and around 6 cities in the US: Bronx, NY; Brooklyn, NY; Washington, DC; Los Angeles, CA; San Francisco, CA; and Chicago, IL. Four new southern sites have just been added to the study, including a site in Birmingham AL. This site is a collaborative effort between the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) CFAR and the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC). The WIHS data management and coordinating center is in Baltimore, MD. Each consortium is headed by a principal investigator, is affiliated with local research institutes to see study participants, and has its own Community Advisory Board.
The UAB Global Health, Infectious Disease and Vaccines Initiative was developed to promote advancements in scientific discovery and biomedical research in HIV, HCV, Tuberculosis, Host Defense, and Drug Discovery as part of UAB's AMC 21 Strategic Plan. Over the next five years, the plan includes recruiting up to 50 new research faculty to build on UAB's already strong research efforts in cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, immunology and transplantation, infectious disease, global health and vaccines, and neuroscience. There is also a push to discover new drugs and a focus on technology with new imaging devices and personalized medicine that would allow patients to sequence their genome and have therapies designed for them.
Leaders from the UAB CFAR, the Departments of Microbiology, Pulmonary, Gastroenterology and Medicine are leading this effort in order to develop existing faculty and attract top quality recruits by establishing appropriate infrastructure and support to fully develop these research opportunities. The overarching goal of the AMC 21 plan is to make UAB the preferred academic medical center of the 21st century and ensure that Alabamians have access to the world's best care. Visit the website for this developmental initiative for more information on research pilot awards and travel funds to develop studies at international research sites.
ID, Global Health, and Vaccines Initiative
The Creative and Novel Ideas in HIV Research (CNIHR) program is an innovative new pilot program co-sponsored by the International AIDS Society, the Office of AIDS Research and the NIAID. The intent of this program is to attract both international and U.S.-based early stage investigators from outside the field of HIV as well as researchers involved in other aspects of HIV/AIDS research to help address key scientific questions. The UAB, UW and UCSF CFARs manage this program. Requests for applications are announced yearly in July. Eligible applicants include junior investigators who have either completed their terminal research degree (e.g. PhD, DVM, MMed + Postdoc) or MD or medical residency within the last ten years, and who have a faculty or equivalent position (e.g. assistant professor, senior lecturer, etc.) in good standing at an academic institution or have a comparable position in a not for profit organization or institution with a primary mission of research. Both domestic and international investigators are encouraged to apply. Mentorship by a CFAR investigator is required as a condition of the award. The award terms are up to 2 years in length. Awards are generally funding at up to $150,000 Direct Cost per year, (the amount of the award will vary depending on the proposal). Funding is also provided for awardees to attend future IAS/AIDS meetings during the proposed period of research. The program has just announced a 4th year of funding with concepts due in October 2013. Visit the program website for more information and to download the program RFA.