The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has estimated there were more than 1.1 million people in the US living with HIV in 2014. Effective antiretroviral therapy (ART) has increased the life expectancy of HIV+ individuals and the number of US adults living with HIV is projected to increase by almost 40% over the next decade. This has created a new challenge for people living with HIV in the US. People living with HIV have a high risk for heart, lung, blood and sleep related diseases (NHLBI-targeted diseases). Furthermore, the prevalence and incidence of both HIV and NHLBI-targeted diseases are higher among African Americans compared with other race/ethnic groups and in the South compared with other regions of the US. Despite the recognized importance of NHLBI-targeted diseases in people with HIV, few researchers have been trained in this area. The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is exceptionally well-suited to lead an institutional K12 Career Development Program in HIV-related heart, lung, blood and sleep research. The burden of HIV and NHLBI- targeted diseases is higher in the Southeast US compared with other geographic regions. The overall objective of this K12 grant is to develop and sustain a training program for scholars to gain interdisciplinary, intensive mentored research training and career development to become research leaders in the field of HIV- related heart, lung, blood and sleep disease. To accomplish this goal, we have designed a career development program that is interdisciplinary, involves didactic and experiential training opportunities, and contains intensive mentorship. The key activities we propose include to (1) develop and deliver an intensive, didactic curriculum with research rotations for additional skill development, (2) identify and recruit five scholars for training to conduct heart, lung, blood and sleep-related research in the context of HIV, (3) provide career development support through individual and team mentoring, (4) foster interdisciplinary team-science, and (5) provide tailored research projects for scholars to lead. The UAB program will collaborate with the other K12 awardees from this NHLBI program to maximize opportunities and experiences received by scholars through coordinating activities, including online courses. We will build this program on a strong foundation at UAB including (1) the Center for AIDS Research (CFAR), (2) a clinic site for major HIV studies (e.g., WIHS and REPRIEVE), (3) ongoing NHLBI-funded cohort studies (e.g., CARDIA), (4) a large pool of established senior mentors, (5) established research methods and career development workshops, (5) long-standing T32 and K12 training programs and (6) a CTSA. Also, the co-Principal Investigators for this grant have complimentary experience leading cardiovascular disease (Dr. Muntner) and HIV (Dr. Overton) research, strong track-records mentoring scholars towards independence, and an established research collaboration involving lipids and hypertension among patients with HIV. By completion of the K12 program, scholars be prepared to assemble, launch and lead interdisciplinary teams conducting HIV-related heart, lung, blood and sleep research.
In order to reverse the increasing incidence and prevalence of heart, lung, blood and sleep-related disease in people living with HIV, young scientists who focus their careers on this area is needed, but currently not available. We propose to develop and provide a rigorous training and research opportunities to junior faculty members who will work closely with experienced mentors offering guidance for them to develop independent research careers.