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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

UNC: Researchers Awarded $2.91M to Create Long-acting HIV Drug Delivery Implant

Doctoral students Ms. Katie Mollan and Ms. Bonnie Shook-Sa, along with Dr. Michael Hudgens, professor of biostatistics at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, are part of an investigative team that recently received a $2.91 million award from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to create an ultra-long-acting implant for HIV drug delivery.

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is an effective way for those at high risk of contracting HIV to prevent HIV infection by taking daily antiretroviral medication. Research has shown that the efficacy of PrEP is directly correlated to how consistently a person adheres to the medication regimen. PrEP, if adhered to, can have a significant impact on decreasing the spread of HIV.

The principal investigator is Dr. J. Victor Garcia, professor of medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill. Center for AIDS Research biostatisticians Ms. Mollan and Ms. Shook-Sa will provide statistical expertise and guidance for the study under Dr. Hudgens’ mentorship.

“We look forward to collaborating on this important translational work in ultra-long-acting steady release drug delivery for the prevention of HIV transmission,” said Ms. Mollan. “The injectable implant technology holds great promise, and this study will be an exemplary interdisciplinary collaboration between experts in biomedical engineering, radiology, pharmacology, global health, infectious diseases and public health.”

The initial target for the treatment is 180 days of sustained release, which would make this drug delivery system among the first treatments to target such a long-acting release.

“Until we have a vaccine for HIV, PrEP is one of our best bets at prevention,” Dr. Hudgens said.

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