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Pilot Grant Awardees

Pilot awards of up to $20,000 each will be awarded each year. Awards are given on a competitive basis to trainees of minority background (URM) conducting neuroHIV research or to those conducting research related to neuroHIV health disparities.

The progress of these scholars is closely watched and reviewed each month at the Executive Committee meetings. Feedback and advice as appropriate is provided to each of the awardees.

Current Awardees

2018 - 2019

  1. Ashutosh Tripathi from the University of Nebraska School of Medicine
    Pilot Award Title: Combinatorial effects of HIV & cART in mediating microglial activation via dysregulated autophagy: Implications for neuroinflammation underlying HAND
  2. Audrey Knight from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
    Pilot Award Title: Dysregulation of central nervous system glial immune responses in a cART-­suppressed SIV/macaque model of chronic HIV CNS disease
  3. Bethany Falls from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy
    Pilot Award Title: Bivalent Ligand Approach to Explore MOR-CXCR4 Crosstalk in Opioid 
    Enhanced NeuroAIDS”
  4. Michael Ohene-Nyako from Rush University Medical Center
    Pilot Award Title: The role of the PPARγ-MMP9 signaling pathway in regulating HIV-1 protein-induced gut and blood brain barrier integrity and function,

Previous Awardees

2016 - 2017

  1. Xiaolei Zhu, MD, PhD from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Postdoctoral Fellow
    Pilot Award Title: "Treating HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND) using a traditional Chinese medicine ingredient: Repairing gut microbiota dysbiosis-induced sustained inflammation via  inhibition of non-TLR-mediated inflammatory signaling"
  2. Mario Bianchet, PhD from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Assistant Professor
    Pilot Award Title: "Regulation of HIV-1 Tat proteostasis as a latency switch and neuroprotective strategy"
  3. Kristen Hollinger, PhD from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Instructor
    Pilot Award Title: “Neutral Sphingomyelinase 2 Inhibition for the Treatment of HIV Associated Neurocognitive Disorders”
  4. Crystal Leibrand from Virginia Commonwealth University, Graduate Student
    Pilot Award Title: "Structural and Functional Consequences of HIV-1 Viral Proteins and Morphine Exposure at the Blood-Brain Barrier"
  5. Bianca Cotto from Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, PhD Candidate
    Pilot Award Title: “The Combined Effects of HIV-1 Tat and Cocaine on Astrocyte Metabolic Functions”

2015 - 2016

  1. Dionna Williams, PhD from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Postdoctoral
    Pilot Award Title: "Antiretroviral therapy efficacy in the central nervous system"
  2. Minglei Guo, PhD from University of Nebraska School of Medicine, Early Career
    Pilot Award Title: "HIV protein mediated aging in HAND: Role of microRNA-124 and gender"

2014 - 2015

  1. Mario Bianchet, PhD from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Early Career
    Pilot Award Title: "Association of antioxidant-response SNP's with HAND persistence in post-cART era"
  2. Lisa Mangus, DVM from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Predoctoral
    Pilot Award Title: "Beyond the brain: SIV replication, reservoirs, and inflammation in the CNS spinal cord compartment"
  3. Valerie Oji, PharmD, BCPP from Texas Southern University, Early Career
    Pilot Award Title: "Implementing HAND assessments and treatments to specialty medication therapy management (MTM) in HIV/AIDS infected psychiatric populations"
  4. Deanna Saylor, MD, MHS from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Postdoctoral
    Pilot Award Title: "Association between HIV subtype and inflammatory markers with peripheral neuropathy and HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders in persons with HIV"
  5. Gabriel Wagner, MD from University of San Diego, Early Career
    Pilot Award Title: "HIV-1 dual infection and neurocognitive impairment"

2013 - 2014

  1. Raissa Delmestre, PhD from University of Puerto Rico, San Juan, Early Career
    Pilot Award Title: "Interplay of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders with obesity, hypocretin/orexin, and leptin levels"
  2. Yoelvis Garcia-Mesa, PhD from Case Western Reserve University, Early Career
    ​Pilot Award Title: "Ligand-activated nuclear receptors regulate HIV latency in microglial cells"
  3. Yamil Gerena, PhD from University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus, Early Career and Research Scholar
    ​Pilot Award Title: "Soluble insulin receptor, lipidomic dysregulation, and insulin resistance in HIV+ women with HAND"
  4. Angela Pool, PhD from Emory University, Postdoctoral 
    ​Pilot Award Title: "The role of host immune response in cryptococcal neurovirulence"
  5. Kimberly Smith, PhD from Cedars Sinai, UCLA Medical Center, Postdoctoral
    ​Pilot Award Title: "A streamlined assessment program to promote engagement in care for traditionally marginalized populations following an HIV diagnosis"
  6. Patrick Waring from Palo Alto University, Predoctoral
    ​Pilot Award Title: "Screening for HIV related neurocognitive deficits in primary care settings: utilizing discriminant function analysis to identify predictors of neuro-impairment in HIV+ patients"

2012 - 2013

  1. David Alvarez-Carbonell, PhD from Case Western Reserve University, Early Career
    Pilot Award Title: "The fractalkine and ErbB receptors as regulators of HIV latency in infected microglia cells: implications for HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders"
  2. Sarah Beck, DVM from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Predoctoral
    Pilot Award Title: "Immune selection of SIV in the CNS: costs and consequences"
  3. Cari Fritz-French from Emory University School of Medicine, Predoctoral
    Pilot Award Title: "The role of interferon-alpha in HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder"
  4. Jennifer Lyons, MD from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Postdoctoral
    Pilot Award Title: "Remote assessment of HAND in Cape Coast, Ghana: a pilot study"
  5. Rosa Rodriguez, PhD from University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus, Early Career
    Pilot Award Title: "Validation and use of the spatial navigation memory island test in evaluation of HIV-associated cognitive disorder"
  6. Bryan Smith, MD from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Postdoctoral
    Pilot Award Title: "The effects of aerobic exercise on cognitive performance for individuals with HIV-associated cognitive disorder"
  7. April Thames, PhD from University of California Los Angeles, Early Career
    Pilot Award Title: "Proinflammatory genotypes and susceptibility to HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder in African-Americans"
  8. Cai Yu from University of Nebraska, Predoctoral
    Pilot Award Title: "Molecular mechanisms involved in HIV Tat & opiate-mediated neuronal synaptodendritic injury: neuroprotection with PDGF"

2011 - 2012

  1. Valeriya Avdoshina, PhD from Georgetown University, Postdoctoral
    Pilot Award Title: "Contribution of TrkB promoter mutation to HIV-associated depression"
  2. Crystal Bethel-Brown from University of Nebraska, Predoctoral
    Pilot Award Title: "HIV Tat and alcohol mediated disruption of the BBB"
  3. Nicholas Kenney, PhD from Hampton University, Early Career
    Pilot Award Title: "Detection of cripto-1 in murine cortical brain tissue"
  4. Kelly Metcalf-Pate, PhD, DVM from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Postdoctoral
    Pilot Award Title: "The role of thrombopoietin in the pathogenesis of SIV-associated CNS disease"
  5. Fabian Santiago from University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus, Predoctoral and Research Scholar
    Pilot Award Title: "Use of mass spectrometry to study HIV-ENV target cell impact on lipid profiles"
  6. Lu Yang from University of Nebraska, Predoctoral and Research Scholar
    Pilot Award Title: "The effect of cocaine on lipid raft composition in HAND"

2010 - 2011

  1. Marilou Andres, PhD from University of Hawaii, Early Career
    Pilot Award Title: "ApoE expression in the CSF of patients with HIV-1 infection"
  2. Jose Rodriguez, PhD from Universidad Central del Caribe School of Medicine, Early Career
    Pilot Award Title: "Neuroprotective effect of tobacco cembranoid: Therapeutic implications for HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders"
  3. Valerie Toodle from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Predoctoral
    Pilot Award Title: "Neuroprotective and neurorestorative effects of fluconazole against HIV proteins and mitochondrial toxins"
  4. Crystal Watkins, MD from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Early Career
    Pilot Award Title: "Imaging immune mechanisms of depression in older HIV patients"

2009 - 2010

  1. Summer Acevedo, PhD from Universidad Central del Caribe School of Medicine, Early Career
    Pilot Award Title: "Association between 14-3-3e, cytokines and HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders"
  2. Charlene Gamaldo, MD from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Early Career
    Pilot Award Title: "The relationship between HIV-associated neuropathy and insomnia"
  3. Juliana Perez-Laspiur, PhD from University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus, Postdoctoral and Research Scholar
    Pilot Award Title: "Neuroprotective candidates for HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders"
  4. Melissa Agsalda from University of Hawaii, Predoctoral and Research Scholar
    Pilot Award Title: "HIV DNA in CNS compartments in relation to HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders"

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