Although there is a cadre of experienced investigators in Puerto Rico who have made significant contributions to the field of HIV/AIDS, the research workforce needs to be sustained, diversified and further prepared to respond to the challenges faced by people living with HIV. The University of Puerto Rico Mentoring Institute for HIV and Mental Health Research is mainly concerned with providing adequate support to the research workforce, from a developmental perspective. It provides mentees with the adequate context and resources for their development into successful researchers, by offering group and individually tailored support and mentoring. It is also responsible for guaranteeing that there is a well-trained, diverse and interested group of researchers in the pipeline in order to sustain and advance knowledge to respond to the complexities of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In the new cycle, we propose to: a) mentor at least six minority junior investigators/mentees (per year), affiliated to health professions' institutions in the Island, to participate in HIV and mental health/behavioral research; b) increase the research skills, self-efficacy and interest among a new cadre of junior investigators/mentees by offering a comprehensive research competency-based education program geared to increase their competiveness, research productivity and ability to network with the HIV research community; c) place the mentees as research collaborators in ongoing research ventures and projects according to their level of skills and area of interest; and d) facilitate and monitor the involvement of the mentees in existing research networks of national and international scope according to their area of interest. The fulfillment of these four aims should increase the number and quality of junior investigators engaged in HIV and mental health research. The mentees will be able to manage existing data, conceptualize and carry out sub-studies with retrospective and prospective research designs, develop and assess implementations based on research evidence. They will also understand the intricacies of networking to enhance, disseminate and increase the impact of their research as they transition to a successful research career. We believe that these components are key for the comprehensive development of an investigator. They complement each other in facilitating core and cross-cutting skills and competences needed to pursue and sustain a successful research career. Each component will be evaluated to assess performance, outcomes and effectiveness.
Social and behavioral research is needed to increase the understanding of how to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. This project will train a group of junior researchers so that they can explore the multiple factors that affect the people living with HIV and their quality of lfe. It also aims to promote research that could be used to understand how to reduce the number of people getting infected and increase the number of HIV + persons in care.
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