The Providence/Boston CFAR's research is particularly focused on marginalized populations including men who have sex with men (MSM), people who use substances, justice-involved persons, women, gender minorities, and at-risk youth. To achieve this goal, the Prov/Bos CFAR is committed to fostering emerging HIV investigators, expanding collaborative research, and promoting outreach dissemination and education domestically and within other resource-limited settings.
Originally funded in 1998 as the Lifespan/Tufts/Brown CFAR, a new partnership with Boston University/Boston Medical Center was established in 2015 and was formally funded by NIH in 2018 to create the Providence/Boston CFAR. The Prov/Bos CFAR is one of the 19 NIHfunded Center for AIDS Research programs throughout the nation, which together form a network with the mission of supporting multidisciplinary research aimed at reducing the burden of HIV both in the United States and around the globe.
The Prov/Bos CFAR is a collaboration between institutions in Providence, RI- including Brown University; the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University; Lifespan-affiliated academic hospitals, including the Miriam Hospital and the Miriam Immunology Center (HIV clinic), Brown School of Public Health—and institutions in Boston, MA, including Boston University (BU), Boston University Aram V. Chobanian & Edward Avedisian School of Medicine, Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine, Boston University Boston Medical Center (BMC), and the Boston University School of Public Health.
Since Boston Medical Center and Boston University joined efforts with Lifespan and Brown University to create the Prov/Bos CFAR, total funding for HIV/AIDS research has averaged almost $31 million annually and over 600 peer-reviewed publications have cited the Prov/Bos CFAR. Over this time, the Center has awarded over 50 developmental grants to investigators totaling roughly $2 million. Our reach allows us to achieve community engagement both in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, as well as with partnerships in other high-priority areas of the United States, including southern states (Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee), and international collaborations, including successful research programs in Kenya, the Philippines, South Africa, and Ukraine, among others.
The Prov/Bos CFAR is led by Principal Investigator and Director, Susan Cu-Uvin, MD (Brown University/The Miriam Hospital) and a leadership team comprising Associate Directors Curt Beckwith, MD (Brown University/The Miriam Hospital), Debbie Cheng, ScD (Boston University), and Andrew Henderson, PhD (Boston University/Boston Medical Center), and Administrative Director Lauri Bazerman, MS (The Miriam Hospital).
“I am thrilled that NIH has refunded the Providence/Boston CFAR, ensuring our ability to conduct cutting-edge HIV research through 2028. We will continue our mission of reducing the impact of HIV and related co-morbidities among the most vulnerable and disenfranchised populations in Providence, Boston, and beyond” comments Beckwith on the new award.
Services to support investigators across the campuses are delivered through multiple Cores, including the Developmental Core directed by Suryaram (Rahm) Gummuluru, PhD (Boston University/Boston Medical Center), Benjamin Linas, MD, MPH (Boston University/Boston Medical Center), and Ira Wilson, MD, MSc (Brown University); the Biostatistics Core led by Debbie Cheng, ScD (Boston University) and Joseph Hogan, ScD (Brown University); the Basic & Translational Sciences Core directed by Rami Kantor, MD (Brown University/The Miriam Hospital) and Manish Sagar, MD (Boston University/Boston Medical Center); the Substance Use Research Core led by Christopher Kahler, PhD (Brown University) and Karsten Lunze, MD, MPH, DrPH (Boston University/Boston Medical Center); and the Clinical and Behavioral Sciences Core directed by Larry Brown, MD (Brown University/The Miriam Hospital), Philip Chan, MD, MS (Brown University/The Miriam Hospital), and Karen Jacobson, MD (Boston University/Boston Medical Center).
Over the course of the last cycle, the Prov/Bos CFAR emphasized its significant investments in enhancing HIV education, prevention, treatment, and research activities that adequately respond to the interests and needs of community members. They have done this through the creation and preservation of the CFAR Community Engaged Research Council (C-CERC) led by Paul Goulet and Ray Joseph.
“The C-CERC is proud to be an integral part of the community engaged research process and of its role in incorporating lived-experience and community insights into research design, implementation and dissemination to the research of the Providence/Boston CFAR” says Goulet. The C-CERC has helped to build greater trust between academic researchers and communities, which has led to many new collaborations, including those between researchers and members of underrepresented and underserved populations. "We look forward to the next five years, as we build capacity and expertise to ensure that the voices of the community are heard and included in all research proposals” continued Goulet.
The Prov/Bos CFAR also remains committed to cultivating the next generation of scientists from backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical research, demonstrated by the growth of the Diversity, Equity, Belonging, and Accessibility (DEIA) initiative led by Kaku So-Armah, PhD (Boston University/Boston Medical Center), Timothy Flanigan, MD (Brown University/ The Miriam Hospital), Martha Sanchez, MD (Brown University/The Miriam Hospital).
"Our goal is to equitably support and include a diverse range of trainees and faculty to contribute to ending the HIV epidemic and addressing HIV co-morbidities. We look forward to using this renewal and other funding to contribute to the evidence base on how to achieve this goal,” adds So-Armah.
The Prov/Bos CFAR also welcomed its newest Scientific Working Group (SWG), HIV and Oral Health led by Directors Curt Beckwith, MD (Brown University/The Miriam Hospital) and Michelle Henshaw, DDS, MPH (Boston University), and Associate Director Hisashi Akiyama, PhD (Boston University). The HIV and Oral Health SWG emerged out of multiple funded research projects led by Prov/Bos CFAR investigators and will address research gaps in our understanding of how HIV and associated co-morbidities contribute to oral diseases and develop new multidisciplinary research endeavors related to HIV and oral health with a focus on supporting early-stage investigators.
“This is an exciting new time with different challenges in HIV prevention, treatment and dealing with an aging population with co-morbidities. We are embarking in our 25th to 30th year as a CFAR,” says Prov/Bos CFAR Director, Cu-Uvin. “We would like to acknowledge the great contributions of Dr. Charles CJ Carpenter, who established our CFAR in 1998 and to Vicki Godleski, our Administrative Director for 19 years. Please join us in continuing our work to prevent HIV and improve the lives of people with HIV”.