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School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

Washington’s World AIDS Day Highlights

Researchers at the University of Washington ­­School of Public Health have been developing solutions to manage the risk of HIV since the peak of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, and they continue to devote substantial attention to innovative approaches to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS worldwide.

Faculty Awards for HIV/AIDS Research
More than 140 faculty members, most of whom are tied to the department of Global Health and the department of epidemiology, are involved in HIV/AIDS-related projects. Several faculty have recently received exciting new grants to support their HIV/AIDS research:

Dr. Barnabas is also the new holder of the King K. Holmes Endowed Professorship in STD (sexually transmitted diseases) and AIDS. Her research focuses on estimating the population-level impact, cost and cost effectiveness of innovative approaches to expand community-based HIV testing and linkage to prevention and care in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Center for AIDS Research (CFAR), a partnership between the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, recently announced nine recipients of the 2017 New Investigator Awards. The program supports promising early career HIV/AIDS investigators for one to two years and with up to $55,000 in funding. Award recipients were Dr. Whitney Harrington, Dr. Iain MacPherson, Dr. Kenneth Mugwanya, Dr. Andrew Mujugira, Dr. Molly OhAinle, Dr. Rena Patel, Dr. Jillian Pintye, Dr. Duncan Ralph and Dr. Kate Wilson. CFAR is led by Director Dr. Jared Baeten, vice chair and professor of global health and professor of epidemiology.

Department of Biostatistics Clinical Trials
Dr. Thomas Fleming, professor of biostatistics, is involved in two large clinical trials engaging more than 6,000 people at high risk for acquiring HIV infection. The trials are aimed at determining whether an injectable medication, given only about every eight weeks, has effectiveness in reducing the risk of HIV infection that is similar or superior to that of a daily antiretroviral pill known as Truvada. The first trial, HPTN 083, will enroll about 4,500 men who have sex with men or transgender women who have sex with men, at 42 sites in the U.S., Argentina, Brazil, Peru, India, Thailand, Vietnam and South Africa. The second trial, HPTN 084, will enroll about 3,200 women in South Africa. Both trials are expected to follow participants for several years.

Several other faculty members of the School’s department of biostatistics are actively involved in leading the research for preventing the spread of HIV, including Dr. James Hughes, Dr. Peter Gilbert and Dr. Barbra Richardson. 
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Learning Opportunities and Student Achievements
A new winter course offered by the department of epidemiology will present students with a comprehensive overview of the historical, public health, clinical and social aspects of HIV infection. Taught by Dr. Jennifer Balkus and Dr. Stephen Hawes, the concepts and material covered in “Exploring the HIV/AIDS Epidemic” will provide students with an introduction to the epidemiology of the U.S. and global HIV/AIDS epidemics and will lay the foundation for those interested in pursuing careers in public health, epidemiology, infectious diseases or medicine.

Students from the department are also putting classroom lessons into practice. One student, Mr. Nick Graff, interned for three months at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through the Global Health Fellows Program. He worked in the Office of HIV and AIDS Research Division’s Implementation Science branch, where he got a first-hand look at the field of implementation science within the context of a major global development organization. He also traveled to Tanzania for a week to meet a team working on a study evaluating a new model to deliver HIV/AIDS medication.

Another student, Ms. Laura Chambers, presented a poster during the STI (sexually transmitted infections) & HIV World Congress in Brazil in July. Also, Ms. Irene Njuguna, a PhD student in epidemiology, presented research on incentivized pediatric HIV testing, and Dr. Anjuli Wagner, a postdoctoral research fellow in global health, presented a cost-analysis to learn the true costs of free HIV testing for young adults, both at the 2017 International AIDS Society’s Conference on HIV Science in France.

World AIDS Day Event
For World AIDS Day, on Dec. 1, the department of global health will host a special screening of Bending the Arc, a documentary film about the doctors and activists behind Partners in Health (PIH). The film tells the story of Dr. Paul Farmer, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, activist Ms. Ophelia Dahl, Mr. Todd McCormack and investor Mr. Thomas White and how they began a movement in the 1980s that changed global health – including HIV/AIDS treatment – forever. The film screening will be followed by a discussion on how the global health research and practice communities can continue to bend the arc toward health equity.