Basic Research in HIV and Substance Use Disorder

Highlighted Papers

The Division supports research on the intersection of HIV and substance use disorders. This research cuts across all four scientific branches. Drug use is not only a vector for the entry of the virus into the circulation, but it can also facilitate brain entry by affecting blood brain barrier permeability.  Additionally, it is associated with risk-taking behavior that increases vulnerability to HIV and other infections. Importantly, substance use can contribute to the course of the disease through independent effects on immune function, by affecting cells that serve as reservoirs of the virus in the brain and through epigenetic mechanisms that regulate latency. Although HIV and drugs of abuse can have independent effects on cell biology that contribute to brain diseases, the combination of HIV and drug use can have unique consequences that affect processes such as pain, neurocognitive function and aging. The basic research supported by the DNB provides opportunities to illuminate HIV biology and CNS biology and may provide potential avenues for treating the co-occurrence of HIV and substance use disorder.

Avenir Award in HIV/AIDS

NIDA’s Avenir Awards provide grants to early-stage investigators who propose highly innovative studies.  “Avenir” is the French word for “future”, and these awards represent NIDA’s commitment to supporting researchers who represent the future of addiction science. Awardees receive up to $300,000 per year for five years to support their projects. NIDA has two Avenir award programs, one for HIV/AIDS and another on the genetics and epigenetics of substance abuse.

Avant-Garde Award Program for HIV/AIDS and Substance Use Disorder Research (DP1)

The Avant-Garde Award is part of the Director’s Pioneer Award mechanism at NIDA that supports investigators with exceptional creativity proposing high impact research projects that will open new areas of HIV/AIDS research relevant to substance use disorders (SUD) and lead to novel avenues for prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS among people who use drugs (PWUD).

Current Areas of HIV Research include:

  • Mechanisms of HIV latency formation and maintenance and effects of drugs of abuse
  • Role of Inflammasomes in HIV biology
  • Single cell brain responses to drugs of abuse in the context of HIV
  • Cannabinoid interactions with HIV biology
  • Use of iPSCs, organoids and/or gene editing technology to study HIV latency and pathology
  • Role of non-neuronal cells and HIV biology
  • Imaging HIV related processes in context of substance use disorder
  • Use of omics approaches to study HIV/drug interactions
  • Effect of HIV and addictive substances on brain epigenomic and non-coding RNA regulation
  • Antiretroviral therapy and addictive substances on cognitive function
  • Biomarkers-markers of HIV latency in the brain
  • Data science and computational approaches to study HIV-substance use dynamics
  • Formulations of ART to improve treatment and compliance

Funding Announcements

  • RFA-DA-21-026 - Using Human Cell Animal Chimera Brains to Study HIV Latency and Pathology (R01 - Clinical Trials Not Allowed)
  • RFA-DA-21-019 - Single Cell Opioid Responses in the Context of HIV (SCORCH) Program Expansion: CNS Data Generation for Chronic Opioid, Methamphetamine, and/or Cocaine Exposures (U01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
  • RFA-DA-21-013 - Advancing HIV/AIDS Research through Computational Neuroscience FOA (R01 - Clinical Trial Optional)
  • RFA-DA-21-005 - Exploiting in vivo or in situ imaging approaches to understand HIV-relevant processes in the context of substance use disorders (R61/R33 Clinical Trials Optional)
  • PA-20-151 - Eradication of HIV-1 from Central Nervous System Reservoirs (R01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
  • PAR-DA-20-221 - NIDA Avant-Garde Award Program for HIV/AIDS and Substance Use Disorder Research (DP1, Clinical Trial Optional)
  • PAR-DA-20-224 - Avenir Award Program for Research on Substance Use Disorders and HIV/AIDS (DP2 Clinical Trial Optional)