We propose to launch a Summer HIV/AIDS Research Program (SHARP) at the AIDS Office of the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) in order to inspire undergraduates to join a community of scientists who use multidisciplinary approaches to control the HIV epidemic. The proposed program will specifically focus on individuals from underrepresented backgrounds in science, including racial and ethnic minority groups disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS because they may 1) offer critical insights into important research questions and approaches;2) provide additional input into culturally relevant and appropriate strategies;3) succeed in engaging communities in all aspects of study design, implementation and participation;and 4) guide the format and content of disseminating study results. SHARP will be modeled on the highly successful American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)-funded summer internship we have organized at the SFDPH since 2009 incorporating research, training, shadowing, and mentorship. SHARP scholars will be recruited from local Bay Area colleges and universities, Historic Black Colleges and Universities, and through widely disseminated Internet postings. The 12-week summer program will scale up enrollment of four SHARP scholars during Years 1 and 2;five SHARP scholars during Years 3 and 4 and six SHARP scholars in Year 5. SHARP scholars will conduct a focused research project under the mentorship of experienced faculty and present findings at an AIDS Office Research Symposium;participate in weekly SHARP seminars and eLearning (including sessions dedicated to the responsible conduct of research);shadow clinical trial and community outreach staff and attend community consultations on research;and participate in a networking event with co-mentoring minority early stage investigators at the University of California, San Francisco. To retain interest and engagement of SHARP scholars, we will request that graduating scholars mentor incoming scholars. We will also organize alumni activities that include online social networking, quarterly webinars led by SHARP faculty, and sharing of an e-newsletter. Co-led by innovators in HIV prevention research and training, the program is housed at the AIDS Office, an extremely productive research environment that conduct studies aligned with the HIV/AIDS research agenda of the NIMH. The SFDPH offers a suitable physical and administrative infrastructure to support scholars including adequate space, a computer network, and regulatory/data management capabilities. Through close linkage to UCSF and University of California at Berkeley, scholars will have access to a wide range of researchers from different disciplines.
There are an estimated 33 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide. The goal of this program is to create a compelling summer research experience for undergraduates from underrepresented backgrounds in science, motivating them to pursue further training so they can explore social/behavioral and biomedical HIV/AIDS prevention approaches that will effectively address what many consider to be the defining health challenge of our era.
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