HIV/AIDS Training Program for Young Scientists Refunded

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A training program at Yale that prepares the next generation of scientists specializing in HIV prevention research will continue through its twentieth anniversary with a $2.5 million federal grant.

The five-year grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) will fund the Interdisciplinary HIV Prevention Training Program through 2019, equipping young researchers with the skills needed to address the evolving challenges posed by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Professor Jeannette Ickovics has served as director throughout the program’s 15-year history at Yale, and recently handed the leadership to Trace Kershaw, Ph.D., associate professor at the Yale School of Public Health and a former fellow of the HIV-training program.

“For the past 14 years, Jeannette has provided a wonderful research environment and led an exceptional group of faculty mentors in this program. My own research career is owed largely to Jeannette and this training fellowship.” said Kershaw. “More than ever, junior scholars need strong mentorship to succeed in research careers. Jeannette’s development of this training fellowship has made an outstanding contribution to developing new science and to supporting a new generation of researchers. I hope to continue her tradition of fostering and mentoring emerging leaders in HIV prevention research.”

The program has trained 50 pre- and post-doctoral fellows, including many from underrepresented backgrounds and from a broad array of disciplines, several of whom have gone on to become researchers at the Yale School of Public Health and other top academic institutions. The fellows have tackled important topics in HIV such as stigma, HIV in prisons, drug use,, interpersonal violence against women, prevention of chronic diseases among HIV positive individuals, and biomedical approaches to prevention such as pre-exposure prophylactics. The fellows have had a significant impact on HIV research, authoring nearly 700 publications in various journals and obtaining faculty appointments at institutions such as Albert Einstein College of Medicine, UC Berkeley, Brown University, Columbia University and Harvard University.

There are currently six post- and three pre-doctoral fellows in the program working on a range of HIV-related research projects at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS (CIRA). Valerie Earnshaw, for instance, is studying how experiences of discrimination affect birth outcomes among pregnant teens and young women as well as doctor-patient interactions and health disparities among stigmatized group members. Another post-doctoral fellow, Nicole Overstreet, is examining how one’s body image influences risky behavioral decisions. Additionally, her work considers how the stigmatization of intimate paertner violence impacts HIV risk behaviors.

“Having support for young scientists interested in, and dedicated to, preventing and ameliorating the impact of HIV infection is critical in the fight against AIDS,” said Paul Cleary, dean of the School of Public Health and director of CIRA. “Being able to continue training some of the best scientists in the country will greatly facilitate our efforts to drive the rate of new infections in Connecticut, New England, and throughout the country to zero.”

Post-doctoral fellows complete two years of training at CIRA, participating in weekly seminars and lectures and working closely with their mentors on original research. Pre-doctoral training includes formal course work and classes at YSPH, a research preceptorship, outside courses and meetings, qualifying examinations and dissertation research.

For more information about the Interdisciplinary HIV Prevention Training Program, visit cira.yale.edu/training.


This Article was submitted by Denise L Meyer, on Friday, June 27, 2014.