A K02 independent Scientist Award will enable the candidate to obtain maximum protected time at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) to pursue NIDA funded research on substance abuse-HIV-1 comorbidity, acquire advanced cross-disciplinary expertise, and to mentor student and faculty scientists in this area. Drug abuse and HIV-1 are interlinked epidemics with horrific consequences. To address this problem, the candidate directs grant P01 DAI 9398, "Opiate drug abuse and CNS vulnerability to HIV", is PI on grant ROI DA18633, "Mechanisms of opiate drug-HIV:lnduced neurodegeneration", is a co-l on a R01 DA024461 "Glial progenitors as targets of HIV/opiate interactions", is a co-l on a pending NIDA ROS grant to study opioid drug-hepatitis C virus (HCV) interactive pathology, and consultant on numerous other projects. The applicant has published seminal studies demonstrating: that opioids can directly affect CNS maturation;the cellular basis of opioid receptor and function in astrocytes and oligodendrocytes;and that opioids intrinsically exacerbate the pathogenesis of neuroAIDS-identifying both intra- and intercellular pathologic mechanisms in neurons and multiple glial types. The applicant has established worldwide collaborations that continue to optimize approaches to opioid abuse-HIV-1 comorbidity, has mentored highly successful pre- and postdoctoral, and basic and clinical faculty;including training in the responsible conduct of research (RCR), has co-directed a NIDA training grant, and organized local and international conferences promoting substance abuse research. A K02 award will enable the candidate to: (1) pursue the goals of current grants, while developing cutting-edge approaches to substance abuse (e.g., self-administration paradigms), HlV-1 (humanized SCID mouse model), and molecular neurovirology;(2) to merge basic and clinical approaches through translational research with the VCU HIV/AIDS Center and joint VCU/Johns Hopkins Univ. NIDA CTN;while continuing to mentor students/early career scientists (including under-represented individuals and an emphasis on RCR). He was recruited to VCU by the Dept. of Pharmacology and Toxicology to pursue these goals and receives tremendous support for this endeavor.

Public Health Relevance

Opioid (heroin) abuse and HIV/AIDS are interrelated epidemics. Not only does drug abuse spread HIV, but also the candidate discovered that opioids intrinsically promote the neurodegenerative effects of HIV. The candidate respectfully requests this award to devote more time to pursue research into the mechanisms underlying opioid drug abuse-HIV interactions to indentify new therapies for opioid abuse and neuroAIDS.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Research Scientist Development Award - Research (K02)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Human Development Research Subcommittee (NIDA)
Program Officer
Sorensen, Roger
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Virginia Commonwealth University
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Fitting, Sylvia; Knapp, Pamela E; Zou, Shiping et al. (2014) Interactive HIV-1 Tat and morphine-induced synaptodendritic injury is triggered through focal disruptions in Na? influx, mitochondrial instability, and Ca²? overload. J Neurosci 34:12850-64
El-Hage, Nazira; Rodriguez, Myosotys; Podhaizer, Elizabeth M et al. (2014) Ibudilast (AV411), and its AV1013 analog, reduce HIV-1 replication and neuronal death induced by HIV-1 and morphine. AIDS 28:1409-19
Masvekar, Ruturaj R; El-Hage, Nazira; Hauser, Kurt F et al. (2014) Morphine enhances HIV-1SF162-mediated neuron death and delays recovery of injured neurites. PLoS One 9:e100196
Sorrell, Mary E; Hauser, Kurt F (2014) Ligand-gated purinergic receptors regulate HIV-1 Tat and morphine related neurotoxicity in primary mouse striatal neuron-glia co-cultures. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol 9:233-44
Dever, Seth M; Costin, Blair N; Xu, Ruqiang et al. (2014) Differential expression of the alternatively spliced OPRM1 isoform ?-opioid receptor-1K in HIV-infected individuals. AIDS 28:19-30
Ngwainmbi, Joy; De, Dipanjana D; Smith, Tricia H et al. (2014) Effects of HIV-1 Tat on enteric neuropathogenesis. J Neurosci 34:14243-51
Hauser, Kurt F; Knapp, Pamela E (2014) Interactions of HIV and drugs of abuse: the importance of glia, neural progenitors, and host genetic factors. Int Rev Neurobiol 118:231-313
El-Hage, Nazira; Dever, Seth M; Podhaizer, Elizabeth M et al. (2013) A novel bivalent HIV-1 entry inhibitor reveals fundamental differences in CCR5-*-opioid receptor interactions between human astroglia and microglia. AIDS 27:2181-90
Fitting, Sylvia; Ignatowska-Jankowska, Bogna M; Bull, Cecilia et al. (2013) Synaptic dysfunction in the hippocampus accompanies learning and memory deficits in human immunodeficiency virus type-1 Tat transgenic mice. Biol Psychiatry 73:443-53
El-Hage, Nazira; Podhaizer, Elizabeth M; Sturgill, Jamie et al. (2011) Toll-like receptor expression and activation in astroglia: differential regulation by HIV-1 Tat, gp120, and morphine. Immunol Invest 40:498-522

Showing the most recent 10 out of 17 publications