En español

Prevention of HIV Spread Focus of NIDA's 2012 Avant-Garde Awards

Innovative research will study how to prevent transmission among the newly infected and identify genetic influences in disease progression

July 23, 2012

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, today announced the recipients of the 2012 Avant-Garde Award for HIV/AIDS Research. The three scientists, Drs. David Smith, Samuel Friedman and Jeremy Luban, will each receive $500,000 per year for five years to support their research. NIDA's annual Avant-Garde award competition, now in its fifth year, is intended to stimulate high-impact research that may lead to groundbreaking opportunities for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS in drug abusers.

Awardees are:

David Smith, M.D.Dr. David Smith

Awardee: David Smith, M.D.,
University of California, San Diego School of Medicine

Project: Molecular epidemiology for HIV prevention for drug users and other risk groups

Dr. Smith’s group will develop a novel system that integrates information regarding patient demographics, geographic location, drug use, and HIV viral strain in order to map patterns of new HIV infections as they occur in real time. A successful system would allow for the quick delivery of tailored prevention resources to affected communities based on their unique characteristics (e.g., injection drug use or methamphetamine use and sexual transmission). The ultimate goal is to stop HIV clusters from developing or expanding, particularly among substance using populations.

“Identifying and targeting HIV transmission clusters will allow us to make the most of HIV prevention resources,” said Smith. “We believe this could be the key to ending HIV transmission in some of the most at-risk populations in San Diego and, in turn, other communities.”

Samuel Friedman, Ph.D.Dr. Samuel Friedman

Awardee: Samuel Friedman, Ph.D.,
National Development and Research Institutes, New York City

Project: Preventing HIV transmission by recently-infected drug users

Dr. Friedman’s research team plans to identify people newly infected with HIV and link them to care, since the first few months of infection represent a period of high infectivity and risk behavior. Novel interventions that include community alerts and education within affected drug using and other social networks and venues, and efforts to prevent stigmatization of the newly-infected,  will be developed and tested to prevent further spread within the community.

“Unlike many other HIV prevention and treatment methods, this technique will follow the virus to where it is likely to be transmitted,” said Friedman. “We will start with drug users, but the network and community aspects of the project mean that we will also prevent transmissions among other high-risk persons if the infection chains lead us to them.”

Jeremy Luban, M.D.Dr. Jeremy Luban

Awardee: Jeremy Luban, M.D.,
University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester

Project: Human genes that influence HIV-1 replication, pathogenesis, and immunity in intravenous drug users

Dr. Luban’s group plans to develop new methods for studying the ways in which human genes can influence whether an exposed person will become infected with HIV or, if infected, how the disease will progress. These studies will guide future strategies aimed at preventing and treating HIV among drug abusers.

“Despite 30 years of AIDS research, there is still no experimental system for studying how genes actually function in humans to regulate HIV replication, pathogenesis, and immunity,” Luban said. “Now that the number of human genes suspected of influencing HIV is skyrocketing, the need for such technology has never been greater.”

“This year’s award recipients proposed especially exciting research aimed at reducing HIV transmission and progression,” said NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D. “We expect that this innovative research will provide new leads in the fight against HIV/AIDS in drug abusing populations.”

These awardees were among the many applicants whose proposals reflect diverse scientific disciplines and approaches to HIV/AIDS research. The Avant-Garde Awards are modeled after the NIH Pioneer Awards and are granted to scientists of exceptional creativity who propose high-impact research that could open new avenues for prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS among drug abusers.

According to the most recent estimates provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1.2 million people in the United States live with HIV, with about 50,000 new cases diagnosed each year, an incidence rate that has held relatively steady since the late 1990s. Drug abuse and its related behaviors, such as sharing drug injection equipment and/or engaging in risky sexual behavior while intoxicated, have been central to the spread of HIV/AIDS since the pandemic began 30 years ago. NIDA’s AIDS Research Program supports a multidisciplinary portfolio that investigates the role of drug use and its related behaviors in the evolving dynamics of HIV/AIDS epidemiology, natural history, etiology, pathogenesis, treatment, and prevention.

For information about NIDA’s AIDS Research Program, including the Avant-Garde Award Program for HIV/AIDS Research and the International AIDS Society-NIDA Joint Fellowship Program, go to www.drugabuse.gov/AIDS.

Smith, Friedman and Luban are funded under grant numbers DA034978, DA034989, and DA034990.

NIDA Press Office

About the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug use and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to inform policy, improve practice, and advance addiction science. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs and information on NIDA research and other activities can be found at www.drugabuse.gov, which is now compatible with your smartphone, iPad or tablet. To order publications in English or Spanish, call NIDA’s DrugPubs research dissemination center at 1-877-NIDA-NIH or 240-645-0228 (TDD) or email requests to drugpubs@nida.nih.gov. Online ordering is available at drugpubs.drugabuse.gov. NIDA’s media guide can be found at www.drugabuse.gov/publications/media-guide/dear-journalist, and its easy-to-read website can be found at www.easyread.drugabuse.gov. You can follow NIDA on Twitter and Facebook.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

NIH. . .Turning Discovery Into Health®

News Releases

Mar 2017

Feb 2017

Dec 2016

Nov 2016

Oct 2016

Sep 2016

Aug 2016

Jul 2016

Jun 2016

May 2016

Apr 2016

Mar 2016

Feb 2016

Jan 2016

Dec 2015

Nov 2015

Oct 2015

Sep 2015

Aug 2015

Jul 2015

Jun 2015

May 2015

Apr 2015

Mar 2015

Feb 2015

Jan 2015

Dec 2014

Nov 2014

Oct 2014

Sep 2014

Aug 2014

Jul 2014

Jun 2014

May 2014

Apr 2014

Mar 2014

Feb 2014

Jan 2014

Dec 2013

Nov 2013

Oct 2013

Sep 2013

Aug 2013

Jul 2013

Jun 2013

May 2013

Apr 2013

Mar 2013

Feb 2013

Jan 2013

Dec 2012

Nov 2012

Oct 2012

Sep 2012

Aug 2012

Jul 2012

Jun 2012

May 2012

Apr 2012

Mar 2012

Feb 2012

Jan 2012

Dec 2011

Nov 2011

Oct 2011

Sep 2011

Aug 2011

Jul 2011

Jun 2011

May 2011

Apr 2011

Mar 2011

Jan 2011

Dec 2010

Nov 2010

Sep 2010

Aug 2010

Jul 2010

May 2010

Apr 2010

Mar 2010

Jan 2010

Get this Publication

Cite this article

APA style citation

NIDA (). Prevention of HIV Spread Focus of NIDA's 2012 Avant-Garde Awards. Retrieved , from https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2012/07/prevention-hiv-spread-focus-nidas-2012-avant-garde-awards

press ctrl+c to copy
Receive Latest Science Articles in your Email!
You will only receive messages related to Latest Science