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Lifespan/Tufts/Brown Center for AIDS Research renewed with $8.5 million NIH grant

PROVIDENCE, R.I. The Miriam Hospital has received an $8.5 million, five-year renewal grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support the continued growth of the Lifespan/Tufts/Brown Center for AIDS Research (CFAR).

The grant enables both junior and senior investigators from Brown University, Tufts University and their affiliated teaching hospitals including The Miriam Hospital to pursue their research goals and explore new opportunities for HIV/AIDS research through interdisciplinary collaboration and shared resources.

Currently, more than 60 CFAR investigators from fields including infectious disease, virology, behavioral medicine, biostatistics and nutrition are collaborating across institutions on basic science, clinical and behavioral studies, and translational research to advance the prevention, detection and treatment of HIV/AIDS.

Based at The Miriam Hospital, the Lifespan/Tufts/Brown CFAR is one of just 21 centers located at leading AIDS research institutions nationwide, and is one of only 10 CFAR sites to receive continuous NIH support since the program's inception in 1988. The CFAR is nationally recognized for its expertise in the management of HIV infection in women, delivery of HIV care in the correctional system, clarification of the nutritional consequences of HIV infection and management of HIV/tuberculosis co-infections in the developing world. CFAR investigators have provided leadership for national inter-CFAR working groups in each of these areas.

"The continuous funding of our center reflects the strength and excellence of our HIV/AIDS research program, the seamless collaboration among our institutions and the ingenuity and innovation of our researchers working to stem the tide of the AIDS pandemic," said Charles C.J. Carpenter, M.D., principal investigator and founding director of the Lifespan/Tufts/Brown CFAR. "This grant renewal will provide us with the necessary support to advance prevention, detection and treatment efforts, both here in the United States and in countries around the world that have been devastated by HIV and AIDS."

The grant renewal will support shared "core" facilities that provide expertise and services, such as biostatistics resources and administrative support, to investigators at all participating institutions. The CFAR's primary research areas include women and underserved populations, HIV/AIDS prevention (both in southern New England and the developing world), nutrition and retrovirology, with a major emphasis on mechanisms of viral resistance to antiviral treatment.

The CFAR also includes a developmental "core" to provide initial funding for new investigators and to support faculty mentoring activities one of the Center's major objectives. Since 1998, it has awarded nearly $3 million in developmental grants to support new research by junior investigators. These scientists have subsequently brought in more than $34 million in NIH grant funding to the CFAR's affiliated institutions. In 2011, the total NIH funding for Lifespan/Tufts/Brown CFAR investigators was $25.5 million, with 51 research grants awarded to participating faculty.

Carpenter says continuing NIH support of the Brown/Tufts Fogarty AIDS International Training and Research Program (AITRP) has been essential to the CFAR's international research and training efforts. Led by CFAR associate director Susan Cu-Uvin, M.D., the AITRP provides interdisciplinary training for many foreign clinical, behavioral science and public health investigators interested in AIDS research. The program helps develop international scientists who become competent and independent researchers and can address critical issues facing their own countries' HIV/AIDS epidemics. Leadership of each of the CFAR's participating institutions have each pledged substantial additional support to fund development of collaborative research by junior scientists at partnering institutions in sub-Saharan Africa and south India.

"We have a longstanding commitment to bring HIV awareness and knowledge both clinical and research to countries that are disproportionately affected by this disease and lack the resources to effectively cope with it," said Cu-Uvin. "The support and resources available through our CFAR are critical to helping us achieve our goal of improving the clinical care, survival and quality of life of the millions of HIV-positive people living in these countries and preventing further spread of this disease."

Lifespan/Tufts/Brown CFAR collaborating institutions include The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and three of its teaching hospitals (The Miriam Hospital, Rhode Island Hospital and Women and Infants Hospital) and the Tufts University School of Medicine, along with its primary teaching hospital, Tufts Medical Center. The Miriam Hospital a founding member of the Lifespan health system serves as the primary contracting institution for the CFAR.

The CFAR award is jointly funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; National Cancer Institute; National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; National Institute on Aging; National Institute on Drug Abuse; and National Institute of Mental Health.

Carpenter, an infectious disease specialist at The Miriam Hospital, is a professor of medicine at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Cu-Uvin, founder of the HIV Menopause Clinic at The Miriam Hospital, is a professor of gynecology and medicine at Alpert Medical School and director of the Brown University Global Health Initiative.


Contact: Jessica Collins Grimes

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