NIH funds Texas health institutes for HIV research

HOUSTON – (May 13, 2021) – Baylor College of Medicine will serve as the lead site of the new Texas Development Center for AIDS Research (D-CFAR). Funded through a grant from the National Institutes of Health, D-CFAR is a collaboration of Baylor, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (including McGovern Medical School, School of Public Health and Cizik School of Nursing) and the Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio. It will support the overall mission of the national Center for AIDS Research by prioritizing and growing HIV research and supporting the effort to end the epidemic in the United States.

Development of the Texas center is important since the state has a growing number of people with HIV due to its large population, coupled with lesser public health investment, said Dr. Thomas Giordano, director of the new center and professor of medicine and section chief of infectious diseases at Baylor. There is an urgent need for more research and infrastructure to combat this epidemic in the state.

“If you look at HIV in the U.S., it has shifted over the decades from the Northeast and West Coast to the South and Southeast, and Texas is responsible for a large portion of the HIV epidemic,” Giordano said. “A number of places have made strides in their responses to the HIV epidemic, and there are fewer people becoming newly infected by it in many places in the U.S., but the decline in Texas has been slower. We are fortunate to get this grant to try to accelerate the efforts in Texas.”

The research grant will catalyze and accelerate the discovery and implementation of new ways to end the HIV epidemic, including through basic science research, translational research, clinical trials and health services research. The goal is to reduce the burden of HIV and its associated health issues to improve the health of people with HIV and prevent new infections. The Texas D-CFAR’s work will be informed by research experts, community partners and public health authorities in Houston, the state of Texas and the U.S.

Throughout its five-year funding period, the Texas D-CFAR will focus on three major points:

  • Providing organizational and infrastructure support to facilitate activities and programs that strengthen and enrich the HIV research environment in Texas.
  • Supporting targeted high-priority interdisciplinary pilot research projects, assisting in responding to new HIV-related research initiatives and facilitating research on ending HIV and improving health of people with HIV in Texas.
  • Providing state-of-the-art expertise, advice and services to facilitate the range of HIV-related research for investigators at the Texas D-CFAR institutions.

“As new antiretroviral drugs became available, the life expectancy of people with HIV bumped up to that of the general population. However, our current research should address the emergence of comorbidities such as cardiovascular, liver, kidney and bone diseases and cancer, among others, observed in the aging population with HIV. The Texas D-CFAR has a pivotal role bringing established and new investigators with expertise on different fields together and providing them the tools and support to address these problems,” said Dr. Roberto C. Arduino, Texas D-CFAR co-director for UTHealth and professor of infectious disease at McGovern Medical School.

“This will be the groundwork to develop new research and to develop new investigators doing HIV research and to increase the partnerships across the academic research institutions, the public health entities and the community. It takes a whole team to make an impact on the HIV epidemic across the state and worldwide,” Giordano said.

Dr. Deepak Kaushal serves as the Texas D-CFAR co-director for Texas Biomedical Research Institute. Dr. Andrew Rice, professor of molecular virology and microbiology, is the co-director for Baylor College of Medicine.

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