Dr. Brion Maher, professor in the department of mental health, and Dr. Greg Kirk, professor in the department of epidemiology, have received a $5.77 million grant for five years from the National Institutes of Drug Abuse. The grant will fund research that aims to develop a comprehensive model for antiretroviral therapy adherence and response in patients who inject drugs.
Effective antiretroviral therapy (ART) has dramatically transformed the clinical course for HIV-infected persons. Through this new funding, Drs. Maher and Kirk will study adherence to the ART regimen, individual differences at genes known to influence ART drug metabolism and the role of substance use on adherence and ART effectiveness. The study will consist of work at the individual level, which will allow researchers to include contextual and environmental factors, as well as cellular factors, when examining cells from individuals with satisfactory and unsatisfactory HIV-related outcomes.
The research will be conducted with The AIDS Linked to the Intravenous Experience (ALIVE) Cohort, which is a 30-year prospective cohort of more than 5,000 patients who inject drugs who participate in semi-annual collection of detailed behavioral surveys, bio specimens, and clinical assessments. ALIVE is among the largest and longest running prospective cohorts of patients who inject drugs worldwide.
Drs. Maher and Kirk are also professors in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Dr. Maher is affiliated with the department of psychiatry and Dr. Kirk has an appointment in both medicine and oncology, as well as is the vice chair for clinical and translational research.