LSUHSC CARC Pilot Project Core The LSUHSC Comprehensive Alcohol-HIV/AIDS Research Center (CARC) Pilot Project Core provides a flexible means to develop and explore new research activities or directions, and unique scientific opportunities that have the potential to evolve into independently funded research projects. This activity is an important part of the CARC, as it 1) provides an avenue for the CARC to explore mission-related research directions independent of, but complementary to, existing Research Components, 2) attracts new investigators to the field of alcohol-related research, 3) maximizes use of a precious resource (the chronic binge alcohol (CBA) consuming SIV-infected rhesus macaque) to study the impact of alcohol on HIV disease transmission, pathogenesis, progression and antiretroviral treatment (ART), and 4) will promote the development of translational research projects to investigate the impact of alcohol use disorders (AUD) on comorbid conditions in people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). The CARC Intramural Center Committee (ICC) will monitor the performance and productivity of the Pilot Project Core. Dr. Paula Gregory will be responsible for program administration and coordination of Pilot Project solicitation and peer-review. The Pilot Project Core will continue to be used to attract new investigators to the alcohol research field and to provide a means whereby basic science alcohol researchers can translate their work into the clinical arena.
The Specific Aim of the Pilot Project Core is to expand interest in the alcohol research field and explore new research directions that are thematically consistent with the focus of the CARC, with the goal that these pilot studies develop into independently funded RO1 research projects or become major components of the CARC. Two PLWHA Pilot Projects from LSUHSC investigators are proposed for funding during years 1 and 2 of this cycle. The first Pilot Project led by Dr. Nicholas Gilpin, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Physiology will investigate the effects of acute stress on alcohol craving, as well as the separate and combined effects of AUD and acute stress on biomarkers associated with hypothalamic and extra-hypothalamic stress systems. The second Pilot Project will be led by Dr. Francesca Peruzzi, Associate Professor of Medicine, will investigate whether PLWHA with AUD and neurocognitive impairment have a unique plasma microRNA profile, distinguishable from that of PLWHA without AUD and without cognitive impairment. Both projects will benefit from the research infrastructure and support provided by the Experimental and Analytical Resource Cores. In addition, they will receive support from the Administrative Core to manage budgets, prepare progress reports, and fulfil reporting requirements. Both pilots will foster the development of translational and innovative research initiatives. These Pilot Projects will utilize the same patient population that the Research Components will use in their studies, thereby maximizing the potential for synergy and a systematic approach to investigating the interaction between AUD and HIV disease.
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