HIV infection now disproportionately affects racial and ethnic minorities in the United States and neuropsychiatric complications remain a major source of morbidity despite effective antiretroviral treatment. For reasons that remain to be fully understood, members of racial and ethnic minorities infected with HIV have not benefited equally from the scientific advances in prevention/diagnosis and treatment of HIV infection. One important barrier is the dearth of scientists from racial and ethnic groups in the NeuroAIDS field. The premise of the Johns Hopkins Translational Research in Neuro-AIDS and Mental Health (TRNAMH) program is that there is not a lack of talent, but rather a lack of opportunity. TRNAMH is a Research Mentoring Institute made up of expert mentors from across the USA who train and disseminate the latest knowledge in basic, clinical, and the mental health complications related to HIV infection of the central nervous system. Built-in within its three components of the didactic course, Pilot Grant and Research Scholar programs are hands-on mentoring with trainees at their local institutions, as well as long-distance mentoring with neuroaids experts. Importantly, in-person training and mentoring is made possible through the Research Scholar component. Our postdoctoral fellows and early career trainees are at a critical juncture in their careers where they are completing pilot research, publishing, applying for grants, and receiving promotions in order to gain independence and hence, the mentoring and training components of TRNAMH provide a crucial resource helping trainees bridge gaps that may arise. TRNAMH was a trailblazer in using novel mechanisms to help trainees obtain pilot data for applications to larger NIH grants and we have seen a more than 1000-fold return-on-investment. Demand for the pilot grant program has increased with time suggesting that this is a valued resource and that there is a continuing need. Moreover, demand for the didactic course has also remained strong over the past eight years having already educated over 380 trainees. In this renewal application, we will continue these core components while implementing newer cutting-edge e-learning tools to further expand the educational and training impact of the program. Addressing the high burden of neuropsychiatric disorders in those infected with HIV requires a diverse, well trained culturally competent workforce. The positive outcomes of the previous grant period suggests that our enhanced innovative program design will continue to fulfill an urgent need and standout as a model of an impactful program, which fosters the career development and entry of diverse scientists into neuroaids.
This proposal describes an intensive training and mentoring program designed to address the low number of researchers from under-represented backgrounds in the NeuroAIDS and Mental Health field. As URs in the United States are more heavily impacted by HIV/AIDS, there is an urgent need for their participation in research that addresses improving the health and well-being of all afflicted.
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