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Inter-CFAR Collaborations

One of the missions of the CFAR Program is to foster CFAR–CFAR collaborations. Over the past few years, several inter-CFAR collaborations have been formed by the CFARs.

Please see below for brief descriptions on some of the existing CFAR–CFAR Collaborations.

CFAR HIV Continuum of Care Working Group (formerly CFAR ECHPP Working Group)

The CFAR ECHPP Working Group (CEWG) was formed in 2011 with the DC D-CFAR serving as the coordinating CFAR. The goal of the CEWG was to promote the conduct of HIV implementation science research by CFAR investigators in collaboration with their local Departments of Health (DOHs) in support of the CDC Enhanced Comprehensive HIV Prevention Planning (ECHPP) program. In 2014, this program was renamed the CFAR HIV Continuum of Care Working Group when the CDC ECHPP program ended and the CEWG evolved to focus on addressing the challenges of the HIV care continuum. In addition, the Working Group was expanded to include the NIMH-supported AIDS Prevention Centers (APCs).

To date, the principal activities of the Working Group have included:

  • CFAR Administrative Supplements awarded in September 2011 (ECHPP-1) to support CFAR investigators in the nine highest AIDS prevalence cities (Atlanta, Chicago, DC, Houston, LA, Miami, NYC, Philadelphia and SF) to collaborate with their local DOHs to conduct research on HIV prevention and care interventions in support of CDC ECHPP initiative; and subsequently in August 2012 (ECHPP-2) to support implementation science focused on the HIV care continuum - including HIV testing, linkage to care, retention and re-engagement in care, and adherence to ARVs. A third supplement (ECHPP-3) was awarded in summer 2013 to investigators at 10 CFARs to develop pilot interventions with their local DOHs to address the HIV continuum of care.
  • National CFAR/APC Meetings The 1st National CFAR/APC ECHPP Meeting was held in DC in November 2012 with 100 participants from 20 CFARs, 10 DOHs and all 5 APCs. The meeting Goals were to present results of the ECHPP-1 projects and the aims and methods of the ECHPP-2 projects. The 2nd National CFAR/APC HIV Continuum of Care Meeting was held in DC in February 2014 with 85 participants from all 19 CFARs, 15 DOHs and all 5 APCs. The meeting Goals were to present results of the ECHPP-2 and APC-1 projects and the aims and methods of the ECHPP-3 and APC-2 projects. It is hoped that a 3rd National CFAR/APC HIV Continuum of Care Meeting can be convened in 2015 to present the results of the ECHPP-3 and APC-2 projects.
  • The first JAIDS supplement was published in November 2013 and included articles summarizing results from the ECHPP-1 projects from the nine CEWG cities. A second JAIDS supplement is now being developed with a tentative publication date in early 2015 to include articles summarizing results from the ECHPP-2 and APC-1 projects.

For further information, please visit the DC D-CFAR website, or contact Dr. Alan E. Greenberg at aeg1@gwu.edu or Ms. Rebecca Barasky at rbarasky@gwu.edu.

CFAR Network of Integrated Clinical Systems (CNICS)

image of CNICS logo
Credit: CNICS

The CFAR Network of Integrated Clinical Systems (CNICS) 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 U.S.-funded 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 people and uses a collaborative cohort study design to gather unique data on the clinical, virologic, immunologic, behavioral, metabolic, service utilization, and psychosocial aspects of HIV infection and disease. Participating CNICS sites include: Case Western Reserve University, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), University of Washington, University of California, San Diego, Fenway Community Health Center of Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University (JHU) (although the JHU site is no longer CFAR-funded, the investigators have continued to collaborate with the site and develop practices for including new site into the CNICS project), and the recently added sites of the University of North Carolina CFAR. The CNICS website provides detailed information describing the organizational structure of the network, quality assurance procedures for the database and updated data elements and cohort distributions listings for the data. Links are also provided to publications using the data and documentation for the submission of requests to access the database. The data and specimens are available to investigators from UAB as well as other research institutions for approved research studies. Members of the research community interested in studying clinical outcomes are encouraged to formulate their ideas into concept proposals for submission to the network for review.

For more information, please contact: Michael S. Saag, M.D. or Donna Porter, Ph.D. For more information, please see the CNICS website.

CFAR Social and Behavioral Sciences Research Network (SBSRN)

image of the SBSRN logo
Credit: SBSRN

The purpose of the CFAR Social and Behavioral Sciences Research Network (SBSRN) is to foster cross CFAR collaborations between behavioral and social scientists, to share strategies on how behavioral and social scientists communicate with basic scientists, to provide a forum for the exchange of the most recent information in the behavioral sciences regarding HIV/AIDS, and to mentor the next generation of behavioral social scientists.

The 3rd National CFAR SBSRN Scientific Meeting was held on October 20–22, 2008, in Seattle, Washington. The 4th Annual SBSRN Scientific Meeting was co-hosted by the Lifespan/Tufts/Brown and Harvard CFARs in Boston, Massachusetts, in 2009. CFAR SBSRN 4th National Scientific Meeting. The 5th Annual Scientific Meeting was hosted by the Emory CFAR in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2010. These meetings are being supported by an R13 (MH081733).

For more information, please contact: Michael Blank, Ph.D., Arnel Montenegro, M.P.H., or Tiffany Brown.

Inter-CFAR HIV/AIDS Related Malignancy (iCHARM) Working Group

Despite dramatic declines in HIV mortality rates due to the success of HAART, death due to cancer continues to rank as the second or the third cause of mortality among HIV-infected patients. HAART has reduced the incidence of some AIDS-associated cancers such as Kaposi’s sarcoma. However, HAART’s impact on the incidence of other malignancies such as NHL has been marginal, and the incidence of some cancers, such as anal, lung, and Hodgkin’s lymphomas, appear to have increased in the post HAART era. The developing world, specifically sub-Saharan Africa, is facing an HIV-associated cancer crisis; some reports have indicated that certain AIDS-defining cancers have increased 10 to 100 fold in the context of HIV infection. The CFAR program emphasizes the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration nationally and internationally, especially between basic and clinical investigators, translational research in which findings from the laboratory are brought to the clinic and vice versa.

In order to address the evolving need in HIV-associated malignancy research, some members of the CFAR community came together and established the inter-CFAR HIV/AIDS Related Malignancy (iCHARM) Working Group. iCHARM focuses on developing collaborations across CFARs and with National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Cancer Centers (CC) at institutions that also contain CFARs to address ongoing challenges of HIV-associated malignancies. Goals of this group include leveraging existing resources, and developing training and funding opportunities in basic, clinical, and epidemiologic issues concerning HIV/AIDS-related cancers in both the domestic and international arenas.

In 2007, the NCI supplement “CFAR and Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC) collaborations in domestic and international studies of HIV-associated malignancies” was awarded to the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) and UCSF CFARs to initiate a cooperative program of developmental pilot funding to address emerging opportunities AIDS-related malignancies and HIV- and viral-associated cancers. Seven iCHARM developmental pilot projects were awarded, topics included basic, epidemiologic, and clinical research. Additional funds were provided through the UCSF CFAR to the Uganda Cancer Institute to assist in developing infrastructure for HIV/AIDS malignancy research in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2008, 10 supplemental funding grants to the Developmental Core were awarded by NCI to individual CFARs to support pilot projects between a CFAR investigator and a CC investigator and 7 more were awarded in 2009. The goal of this supplement is to build closer ties between CFARs and NCI-designated CCs. In 2010, NCI awarded seven supplemental funding grants for HIV-associated malignancy research at CFARs with CCs. This 2010 supplement is intended to support promising areas of scientific investigation which will add further to our understanding of the pathogenesis of HIV-associated malignancies and at the same time increase collaborative partnerships with low- and middle-income countries.

For more information, please contact Paul Volberding, M.D., or Jim Hoxie, M.D.

Inter-CFAR Collaboration on HIV Research in Women

The Inter-CFAR Collaboration on HIV Research in Women is a network of CFAR investigators dedicated to promoting cutting-edge science in HIV research and women, developing new strategies for future research to address HIV-related issues unique to women, and promoting career development and professional growth among junior investigators interested in this field. The working group has identified the following areas of interest: 1) networking among investigators with similar research interests; 2) Developing collaborative grant proposals; 3) merging existing research cohorts; 4) mentoring and reviewing grant proposals in development; 5) meeting annually at research symposia; and 6) external review for CFAR Developmental Awards related to women and HIV. A smaller sub-committee, comprised of National Institutes of Health (NIH) members and representatives from the individual CFARs, is responsible for organization and implementation of the CFAR Symposium on HIV Research in Women. The 2012 CFAR Joint Symposium on HIV Research in Women was hosted by the Lifespan/Tufts/Brown CFAR on September 18-20. The goal of the program is to identify gaps in knowledge in HIV and women’s research and generate collaborative activity between CFARs and other research networks. For more information please contact Alan Landay, Grace John-Stewart, Susan Cu-Uvin, or Kate Murray. We are interested in addressing issues relevant to HIV and women at both a domestic and international level.

For more information, please see the Inter-CFAR Collaboration on HIV Research in Women website.

CFAR Global AIDS Research Consortium (CGARC)

The CFAR Global AIDS Research Consortium (CGARC) is a coalition of CFAR-affiliated investigators with HIV-related research efforts in developing countries around the world. The mission of CGARC is to create synergistic interactions between CFAR institutions via joint programs and research efforts that span multiple CFARs. CGARC efforts thus far have included creating an inventory of international HIV research and care initiatives among existing CFAR centers, compiling a list of researchers from multiple Centers who are willing to review CFAR-related international grant applications, and developing an agreement for CFAR sites to work together on joint targeted evaluation projects for funding. In collaboration with the NIH Office of AIDS Research and the International AIDS Society a supplement program was launched entitled “Creative and Novel Ideas in HIV Research (CNIHR)” targeted to early stage researchers not yet engaged in HIV/AIDS research.

For more information, please contact: Michael Saag, M.D., Donna Porter, Ph.D., King Holmes, M.D., Ph.D., or Susan Mello. For information about the list of CFAR international grant reviewers, please contact Bryna Block.

CFAR HIV/TB Co-Infection Consortium

The HIV/TB Co-Infection Consortium was first introduced at the National CFAR meeting at Harvard and followed by a national symposium co-hosted by the UPenn and Harvard CFARs. The symposium entitled “Confronting TB-HIV Co-infection” was held on June 30, 2005, and led to a collaboration with the Forum for Collaborative HIV Research and the formation of the editorial board to pull together a supplement to the Journal of Infectious Diseases on TB/HIV coinfection. A Supplement was published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases on "HIV/TB Coinfection: Current State of Knowledge and Research Priorities." 15 August 2007, Volume 196, Number S1.

Subsequently, an inter-CFAR HIV/TB collaborative working group was formed, with the three goals of 1) developing a shared research agenda around five areas of focus (molecular pathogenesis, immunology of coinfection, diagnostics, therapy and clinical trials, implementation science); 2) identifying resources at individual CFARs that can be shared across CFARs; and 3) developing common or complementary research themes that could lead to joint inter-CFAR projects. Monthly conference calls are taking place, and a working group meeting occurred on September 30, 2009, at the Baylor CFAR to identify action items for the CFAR agenda. An HIV/TB Co-Infection Web site was created in 2010. For information please contact Ron Collman, M.D., Sarah Fortune, M.D., or Dorothy Lewis, Ph.D.

CFAR–CFAR Collaboration on HIV in Corrections (CFAR–CHIC)

The mission of the CFAR Collaboration on HIV in Prisoners is to support multi-disciplinary interactions among investigators to enhance research into the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of HIV and associated conditions (including linkage to care after release) for incarcerated individuals.

Across the globe HIV rates in incarcerated populations tend to be greater than in the community. In the United States alone, one in seven HIV-infected individuals pass through a correctional facility each year, many of them undiagnosed. Within this pool of people, there are tremendous challenges, including an enormous burden of co-occurring disorders such as mental illness, addiction, viral hepatitis, sexually transmitted diseases, and substantial social challenges. Lack of linkage to care after release often leads to interruption of antiretroviral therapy and return to high-risk activities.

There are clearly many opportunities to conduct meaningful research in correctional populations. We hope to encourage cross-CFAR collaborations, including developing strategies to stimulate research, encouraging involvement, and mentoring the next generation of researchers to address the many complex challenges of HIV and associated conditions among prisoners.

For more information, please contact Josiah D, Rich, M.D., M.P.H., or David Wohl, M.D., or see The Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights.

CFAR Biostatistics Network

Biostatistical methods play a central role in advancing HIV research. The CFAR Biostatistics Network (CBN) comprises statisticians collaborating with HIV investigators at CFARs nationwide. CBN meets annually at the Joint Statistical Meetings. Our most recent initiative is focused on building biostatistics capacity and infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa, where considerable NIH-funded research is being conducted. NIAID recently cosponsored a conference on this topic, organized by Mizrak Gezmu and several CBN members, from which a White Paper was produced and will be published in the Journal of Statistics. A workshop is tentatively planned for June 2011 in Gabarone, Botswana.

In an effort to encourage cross-CFAR collaboration, CBN currently is developing a website to catalog member statisticians and their particular areas of expertise. For more information about CBN, contact Susan Ellenberg at UPenn or Joe Hogan at Brown.

CFAR Sub-Saharan Africa Working Group

The CFAR Sub-Saharan Africa Working Group (CFAR-SSA) was formed in 2011 under the leadership of the UCSF-GIVI CFAR. In November 2012 the leadership was transferred to the Johns Hopkins CFAR to build upon initial accomplishments and enthusiasm.

The goals of the CFAR-SSA working group include

  • Promote New Collaborative Research Opportunities: The CFAR-SSA will develop, improve, and promote multidisciplinary and inter-CFAR research conducted by its members directed at high-priority scientific and public health challenges.
  • Mentor Young SSA Investigators: The CFAR-SSA will provide a unique, collaborative, and cross-institutional capacity building setting for young investigators working in SSA.

The CFAR SSA WG has decided to select high-priority scientific focus areas every 2 years in order to better to coordinate resources for more coherent funding strategies and provide a framework for collaborative activities. Areas can evolve allowing for a balance of new ideas and input with targeted activities. The initial four focus areas area for 2013–2014 are as follows:

  1. Cervical Cancer and Other HIV-related Malignancies
  2. HIV/TB
  3. PMTCT and Pediatric HIV
  4. Key Populations (e.g. MSM, Substance Users, Sex Workers, Adolescents)

Please contact Jennifer Hoffmann for further details at jhoffm45@jhmi.edu

Inter-CFAR Cytometry Interest Group (CIG)

The inter-CFAR CIG originated from collaborative initial interactions between the Duke CFAR, the Miami CFAR and Emory CFAR. Miami hosted a Flow Cytometry Workshop at the 2013 CFAR Director’s Meeting in Miami during which the concept of an inter-CFAR CIG was announced and very well received.

The inter-CFAR CIG is a collaborative project, open to participation by all CFARs and D-CFARs, that is designed to promote the overall CFAR mission by synergistically enhancing and coordinating high quality AIDS research projects. Broad participation in the inter-CFAR CIG will lead to greater transparency across CFARs with regards to cytometry methods, potential manuscripts and funding opportunities through new inter-CFAR collaborations, greater access to cytometry-based training and mentoring for new CFAR Investigators, and potentially CFAR-wide discounts on cytometry products by major vendors.

The Mission of the inter-CFAR CIG is to share protocols and recommendations for cytometry-based assays, foster new collaborations in cytometry, provide mentoring & training opportunities for cytometry-based methods, promote cytometry-focused international partnerships, and disseminate new cytometry tools across CFAR’s. The inter-CFAR CIG also promotes collaboration with industry for evaluating new technologies and strives to be a good steward of government funds by negotiating discounted pricing for flow cytometry reagents.

For further information, please contact Janet Staats at janet.staats@duke.edu

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NIH Co-Funding and Participating Institutes and Centers: NIAID, NCI, NICHD, NHLBI, NIDA, NIMH, NIA, NIDDK, NIGMS, FIC, and OAR

Last Updated July 09, 2014