Pittsburgh HIV Mentored Training for Investigation of Comorbidities and Cure (HIV MeTrICC)
Alison Morris, MD, MS Co-PI
Professor of Medicine and Interim Chief, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine
Professor of Immunology and Clinical and Translational Research
Director, Center for Medicine and the Microbiome
Director, HIV Lung Research Center
Vice Chair for Clinical Research, Department of Medicine
UPMC Chair in Translational Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
Dr. Morris has been PI of 6 NHLBI R01s to investigate lung disease in HIV and the role of pulmonary infections, such as Pneumocystis colonization in HIV-associated COPD, and was a Primary Investigator in the NHLBI-sponsored, “Lung HIV,” a consortium of 8 clinical centers investigating HIV-associated pulmonary disease. Additionally, Dr. Morris was co-PI on a U01 investigating the lung microbiome in the normal host and in HIV-associated COPD, and she participated as one of 6 sites in the Lung HIV Microbiome Program. Key scientific discoveries include the prevalence of diffusing capacity abnormalities in HIV, the role of colonizing infections in lung dysfunction, determining the associations of COPD and pulmonary hypertension in HIV, phenotyping lung disease in HIV, and linking lung function abnormalities to systemic and lung inflammation. Multiple NIH grants and training opportunities have resulted from these cohorts including two K23s, a translational program project grant, an NRSA, and an R34. She holds a K24 mentoring grant, is Vice Chair of Clinical Research in the Department of Medicine, serves as training faculty on several T32s, and runs a grant writing course. She also supervises pulmonary function testing in the MACS and WIHS cohorts.
John Mellors, MD Co-PI
Professor of Medicine and Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases
Endowed Chair for Global Elimination of HIV and AIDS
Recruiting and mentoring more than 25 faculty to build a top academic ID Division and HIV/AIDS Program, Dr. Mellors is the PI of the NIH DAIDS-funded Pitt Clinical Trials Unit and directs the Virology Cores for the NIH DAIDS-funded AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) and the Microbicides Trials Network (MTN). Within the ACTG, he has served as the Chair of the HIV Reservoirs and Eradication (Cure) Transformative Science Group (TSG), overseeing the development of an innovative research agenda to address critical knowledge gaps and to test innovative therapeutic approaches toward a cure of HIV-1 infection. The Mellors laboratory investigates the mechanisms of viral persistence and strategies to deplete or control viral reservoirs, and is highly-experienced in i) sensitive quantitative PCR assays for viral DNA and RNA forms, ii) sequencing to characterize persistent virus populations, and iii) performing virus induction and infectious outgrowth assays. Dr. Mellors has mentored more than 15 predoctoral (PhD and MD) students, postdoctoral PhD research associates, and MD Fellows in the laboratory and in clinical research, and he serves on numerous PhD dissertation committees, offering trainees balanced guidance in translational research, authorship, scientific presentation and grant preparation.
Solomon Ofori-Acquah, PhD Co-PI
Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology-Oncology
Associate Professor of Human Genetics
Principal Investigator, Pittsburgh Heart, Lung, Blood, and Vascular Medicine Institute
Dean, School of Biomedical and Allied Health Sciences, University of Ghana
Classically trained as a hematology and molecular genetics scientist in the National Health System in England, Dr. Ofori-Acquah described the RFLP haplotype of the sickle chromosome among sickle cell disease (SCD) patients in England for the first time and determined the functional relevance of polymorphism of a short tandem repeat in the beta-globin locus control region on HbF level in SCD. His expertise in functional genomics was central to defining the role of a polymorphic cyclic AMP response element in the gamma globin gene in induction of HbF3. Currently, Dr. Ofori-Acquah’s research ranges from basic and translational studies in animal models to large-scale genomics studies of SCD patients in the H3Afrcia consortium. His studies on Nrf2 indicate that this transcription factor plays a dominant role in slowing down progression of SCD with aging. Thus, Nrf2 is an attractive therapeutic target for lessening the severity of SCD chronically. The Ofori-Acquah lab has also recently found that by promoting “low-grade” disease phenotype, Nrf2 activation protects transgenic SCD mice from developing acute lung injury during episodes of hemolytic crisis.
In addition to research, Dr. Ofori-Acquah has a well-documented commitment to teaching, having mentored 19 students at pre-doctoral and postdoctoral levels, six junior faculty, two medical students, seven undergraduate students, and one high-school student. As Co-Director on the VMI T32 training grant, he has overseen the recruitment of minority fellows committee and will leverage this leadership experience as Co-PI on this K12 program grant.
Ivona Vasile-Pandrea, MD, PhD Comorbidities Track Leader
Professor of Pathology
Professor of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology
During the last 17 years, Dr. Pandrea has developed numerous new animal models for the study of progressive, nonprogressive, and elite controlled SIV infections. Her research in non-human primate (NHP) models of AIDS resulted in the development of new paradigms of SIV pathogenesis. Supporting Dr. Apetrei, Dr. Pandrea’s laboratory was involved in the only large-scale studies assessing the biology of SIV in the wild and the main modalities of SIV transmission in natural hosts. During the last years, she has performed NHP studies with multiple therapeutic interventions, including antibiotics or various diets, whose impact on the NHP microbiome was monitored. These studies pointed to differences in the microbiome between AGMs and macaques. The Pandrea laboratory developed the needed tools for the study of SIV pathogenesis and transmission in AGMs, with a focus on mucosal sites. She has also investigated the role of microbial translocation and inflammation in HIV-associated co-morbidities including cardiovascular disease and hypercoagulability. Additionally, Dr. Pandrea has a strong history of training and mentoring both graduate and medical students, as well as postdoctoral fellows.
Nic Sluis-Cremer, PhD Cure Track Leader
Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases
Director of Laboratory Research, Division of Infectious Diseases
In the last 20 years, Dr. Sluis-Cremer’s research has focused on the HIV using a multi-disciplinary approach that includes biophysics, biochemistry, virology, and analysis of clinical samples to address clinically relevant questions. While much of his research has focused on antiretroviral therapy, drug resistance, and virus persistence (work which has continuously been funded by the NIH for the last 14 years), Dr. Sluis-Cremer has also recently become actively involved in antimicrobial resistance and drug discovery. An important strength of his translational research agenda is the fact that Dr. Sluis-Cremer’s laboratories are located in the Division of Infectious Diseases, a clinical division within the Department of Medicine. In this regard, he has a strong track-record of collaboration with leading physician-scientists in HIV research (e.g., Dr. John Mellors) and access to an extensive network within the Division and Department including the Pittsburgh AIDS Center for Treatment (PACT) Clinic, the AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG; John Mellors, PI), the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS; Charles Rinaldo, PI) and the Microbicide Trials Network (MTN; Sharon Hillier, PI). As such, he is located in a supportive collaborative environment that readily facilitates multi-disciplinary translational research.
In addition to his research activities, Dr. Sluis-Cremer is actively involved in graduate and postdoctoral fellow mentoring at the University of Pittsburgh. A faculty member of the Interdisciplinary Biomedical Graduate Program (IBGP) and the Program in Microbiology and Immunology (PMI), Dr. Sluis-Cremer has served on the admissions committee of the IBGP for 3 years, including 1 year as chair. He has also served on the Steering Committee for the Molecular Virology and Microbiology graduate program.
Shyam Kottilil, MBBS, PhD Inner City Rotation Co-Leader
Professor of Medicine, Division of Clinical Care and Research
Co-Director, IHV Clinical Research Unit
IHV Division Head, Infectious Diseases
Dr. Kottilil’s interests have focused on translational research aimed at achieving functional cure for chronic viral pathogens, including HIV, HCV and HBV. In the past several years, his laboratory has conducted multiple investigational clinical trials using novel directly acting antiviral (DAA) regimens, and performed patient-sample based exploration of mechanisms in the setting of these trials. The Kottilil lab executed several investigator-initiated clinical trials and performed extensive translational research by conducting laboratory work exploring changes in the immune system in the setting of treatment for hepatitis C virus. Their ongoing efforts are focused on implementation of strategies to expand clinical therapeutics to achieve functional cure for HIV and HBV infections. In addition, the Kottilil laboratory focuses on determining systemic effects of HIV comorbidities and their impact on metabolic, oncologic and cardiovascular outcomes. Within the Division of Infectious Disease at the Institute of Human Virology, Dr. Kottilil works directly with Infectious Disease fellows and post-doctoral students, clinically as an attending physician, as well as with clinical and laboratory research. He has mentored over 30 MDs and PhDs during his academic career and has received an NIH Outstanding Mentor Award.
Henry Masur, MD Inner City Rotation Co-Leader
Chief, Critical Care Medicine Department, Warren Magnuson Clinical Center, NIH
Professor of Anesthesiology, University of Maryland
Dr. Masur is internationally recognized for his innovative leadership in infectious disease and HIV Medicine. He is past President of the Infectious Disease Society of America, the founding chair of the NIH-CDC-IDSA Guideline on Management of Opportunistic Infections in Persons with HIV Infection, and Co-Chair of IDSA/AASLD Guidance on Management of Hepatitis C.
Dr. Masur’s research program has been an integrated basic science and clinical program, focused heavily on pulmonary complications of life-threatening disease. He has written seminal investigations into the pathogenesis, treatment and prevention of Pneumocystis pneumonia, His program were leaders in recognizing that Pneumocystis is a fungus rather than a protozoon, that it has enzymes that can be targets for novel therapeutic agents, and these unique proteins are ideal targets for novel diagnostics. His group has been leaders in sequencing rodent Pneumocystis, and now human Pneumocystis, which will open new avenues for understanding the unusual biology and epidemiology of this clinically important organism. He has worked as well on other pulmonary pathogens including CMV and Cryptococcus. He oversees research in non-HIV lung disease including ARDS and influenza pneumonia
Dr. Masur leads the District of Columbia Partnership for AIDS Progress (DC PFAP), a unique collaboration between NIH and the DC government which aims to create an urban model for decreasing the impact of HIV/AIDS on underserved populations. DC PFAP is focusing on HCV-HIV co-infection with the goal of improving understanding of host and viral factors that determine disease progression and response to therapy and reducing the burden of disease in an inner city population. The program has built a partnership of community-based clinics that work with the NIH-Clinical Center to follow over 1000 patients with HCV or HIV/HCV. The program has one of the largest treatment programs in the world using investigational HCV drugs. The program has pioneered studies on the optimal duration of therapy and the optimal drug combinations. Important publications on host factors of response are included in the 30+ HCV publications from the past 3 years including publications in high impact journals such as JCI, JID, CID, JAMA, Annals of Internal Medicine, and Lancet. This program is a model for how to work with hard to reach patient groups and communities.
The DC Partnership has highlighted the importance of metabolic syndrome in HIV/AIDS. This has led to the early stage development of a basic and translational program to understand the etiology, consequences, and intervention that might be relevant to managing the clinical syndrome. The metabolomics, microbiomic and genomic aspects of this program have relevance to projects focusing on several HIV co-morbidities.
Dr. Masur has worked closely with industry partners in developing new drugs for Pneumocystis pneumonia, CMV disease, HIV, and HCV. His extensive experience working with industry will provide valuable contacts and valuable perspectives for a program project grant focused on translational research.
Dr. Masur has also worked closely with the FDA. He served for over a decade as chair of the FDA’s Antiviral Advisory Committee. He currently works closely with FDA staff on drug development, on national programs such as antibiotic resistance, and on national guideline committees. This experience will serve drug development strategies well.
During the past 25 years, Dr. Masur’s department has launched the careers of dozens of academic leaders, many with NIH funding. His program graduates are in high demand at academic institutions and include senior leaders in industry and the FDA, chief medical officers, division and department heads, presidents of major professional societies, and members of ASCI and AAP. This mentorship experience will facilitate the success of the Inner-City rotation focus, which he will direct, and provide a strong leadership presence in the Maryland site of this grant.
Jean Nachega, MD, PhD, MPH International Rotation Leader
Associate Professor of Epidemiology
Adjunct Associate Professor of Epidemiology and International Health, Johns Hopkins University
Professor Extraordinary of Medicine, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Honorary Professor of Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Dr. Nachega’s research, teaching, and professional activities have focused on the planning, designing, implementing, and monitoring of clinical trials, cohort studies and programs for prevention and treatment of Infectious Diseases of HIV and/or Tuberculosis in Africa with support from NIH/NIAID, PEPFAR, Wellcome Trust, or the European Developing Countries Clinical Trial Partnership (EDCTP). He has conducted numerous seminal studies that have increased the understanding of factors at play and evaluation of intervention strategies to improve ART adherence and clinical outcomes in HIV patients. Dr. Nachega has authored over 115 peer-reviewed publications, including in top-tier Journals such as JAMA, The Lancet, Annals of Internal Medicine, and PloS Medicine. In 2010-12, he served as chair on the NIH/Office of AIDS Research supported International Adherence and Retention in HIV Care Guidelines Committee. Currently, Dr. Nachega is the HIV lead investigator for the NIAID-supported Stellenbosch University Clinical Trial Unit (SU-CTU) and serves on the Editorial Board of Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. Over the last 5 years, he has been recruited to serve on 7 NIH study sections and is an ad hoc expert consultant for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; the U.S. Centers for Diseases Control & Preventions (CDC); the World Health Organization (WHO), HIV Department, Geneva; and a member of the South African Academy of Sciences. Dr. Nachega served as PI on major research capacity training grants, such as the 5-year U$10 Million PEPFAR Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) and the 5-year £6 Million Wellcome Trust Southern African Consortium for Research Excellence (SACORE). Additionally, he is Co-Investigator for the University of Pittsburgh Fogarty HIV Research Training Program (HTRP, Harrison, PI) at the Catholic University of Mozambique (UCM) and PI of a pilot D43 AIDS-Comorbidities Training Program at Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa. With the above scientific expertise and experience of leading major AIDS training research programs in Africa, Dr. Nachega is qualified to serve as a mentor and lead the HIV International focus area for the proposed K-12 Career Development program.
Steve Chan, MD, PhD
Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology
Principal Investigator, Pittsburgh Heart, Lung, Blood, and Vascular Medicine Institute
Director, Center for Pulmonary Vascular Biology and Medicine
Dr. Chan studies the molecular mechanisms of pulmonary vascular disease and pulmonary hypertension (PH), an example of an enigmatic disease where reductionistic studies have primarily focused on end-stage molecular effectors. To capitalize on the emerging discipline of “network medicine,” research in the Chan laboratory utilizes a combination of network-based bioinformatics with unique experimental reagents derived from genetically altered rodent and human subjects to accelerate systems-wide discovery in PH. In doing so, Dr. Chan’s published work was the first to identify the systems-level functions of microRNAs (miRNAs), which are small, non-coding RNAs that negatively regulate gene expression, as a root cause of PH. Dr. Chan also has expertise in the study of extracellular microRNAs and their delivery to recipient tissue for modulation of gene expression. He has a long-standing interest in HIV and studied its molecular entry mechanisms as part of his PhD. Dr. Chan collaborates with Drs. Ambrose and Morris on an R01 examining pulmonary hypertension in HIV-infected individuals. Dr. Chan has a strong track record for training post-doctoral fellows in cardiovascular research, with a number of his trainees going on to establish independent academic research careers as principal investigators. Dr. Chan is committed to his role as faculty member of this career development grant and continuing his mentorship of these postdoctoral fellows.
Lawrence Kingsley, DrPH
Professor of Infectious Diseases & Microbiology
Professor of Epidemiology
For the past 25 years, Dr. Kingsley has served as the Co-Principal Investigator of the Pittsburgh MACS and initiated and participated in dozens of internal and external MACS collaborations on a broad array of topics, including many studies of important AIDS co-morbidities, e.g., hepatitis B, hepatitis C, KSHV, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and non-AIDS defining malignancies. He is an infectious disease epidemiologist with special interest in the metabolic, cardiovascular, and cancer outcomes unique to HIV-infected populations undergoing antiretroviral therapy. For over 10 years, Dr. Kingsley served as Chairman for the MACS Metabolic Working group. Prior to this, he initiated the cardiovascular studies of the MACS and has participated in several collaborations with many other scientists investigating a broad array of infectious disease topics including neuropsychological complications of HIV/AIDS, risk factors for transmission of HIV, HBV and HCV, HIV-associated immune decline and inflammatory lung complications of HIV, and the cardiovascular/metabolic complications of HIV and antiretroviral therapies. Additionally, Dr. Kingsley has collaborated on investigations of diabetes, insulin resistance, body habitus changes, physical activity, and lipid alterations among HIV-infected and uninfected men.
Dr. Kingsley has participated in several NIH/Fogarty training grants over the past 20+ years. Currently, he serves as a faculty mentor for Dr. Jean Nachega’s NIH-funded “Pitt-Stellenbosch University AIDS & Comorbidities Research Training Program (Pitt-SU-AICoTRP).”
Michael Miller, MD
Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine
Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health
Director, Center for Preventive Cardiology
University of Maryland
During the past 25 years, Dr. Miller has conducted basic and translational studies related to hyper-cholesterolemia. He served as Chair of the writing committee for the AHA Scientific Statement on TG and cardiovascular disease (CVD) and is a writing member for other Scientific Statements related to cholesterol and cholesterol lowering treatment. Recent collaborations with Dr. Shyam Kottilil has resulted in research in cardiovascular disease in HIV, and as a mentor on this K12 grant, he intends on providing new approaches to the intersection of cardiovascular comorbidities and HIV.
Marc Simon, MD, MS
Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology
Associate Professor of Bioengineering and Clinical and Translational Science
As a cardiologist and translational researcher specializing in pulmonary hypertension, advanced heart failure and heart transplantation, Dr. Simon’s primary research focus is understanding right ventricular (RV) adaptation and eventual failure in pulmonary hypertension (PH) as a translational scientist. This ongoing work has spanned multiple novel methodologies, including non-invasive imaging (echocardiography with tissue Doppler imaging and speckle tracking, ECG-gated computed tomography, cardiac magnetic resonance imaging) and invasive hemodynamics (standard fluid filled pulmonary artery catheters, Millar pressure catheters and combination pressure-flow wires to yield pulmonary impedance spectra as well as ventricular-vascular coupling measures). Dr. Simon currently oversees clinical translational studies as PI of the clinical core of a tPPG (PI: Gladwin), including screening for PH in high risk patient cohorts, a blood banking registry of PH patients, and several early phase II IND studies such as inhaled nitrite in pulmonary hypertension. Given his experience with advanced hemodynamic analysis, Dr. Simon’s lab provides this support for the tPPG animal core as well. In this role, as well as the head of translational research for the UPMC Comprehensive Pulmonary Hypertension Program and as director of heart failure research for the Pulmonary Hypertension, Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplantation program at the UPMC Heart & Vascular Institute, Dr. Simon oversees clinical trial recruitment, collaborating with multiple investigators to facilitate clinical translational research in PH. Additionally, he is the director of the Montefiore Clinical & Translational Research Center, a core lab in the University of Pittsburgh’s Clinical Translational Science Institute, overseeing and consulting on over 120 clinical research protocols for NIH-funded investigators including a dedicated vascular function laboratory. Dr. Simon manages the Pulmonary Hypertension, Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplantation program’s clinical research portfolio of over 30 protocols with 4 full time clinical research coordinators as the director of heart failure research.
Dr. Simon has collaborated with Dr. Alison Morris, co-PI, over the past 7 years in examining pulmonary hypertension and right ventricular function in HIV as part of the translational program project grant and in her R34 clinical trial of statins for HIV-associated cardiovascular dysfunction and has also worked with her and other collaborators on examining pulmonary hypertension in a non-human primate model of HIV.
Liza Villanueva, MD
Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology
Director, Center for Ultrasound Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics
Vice Chair for Pre-Clinical Research, Department of Medicine
Dr. Villanueva’s research focuses on the development of medical diagnostic and therapeutic strategies based on ultrasound and ultrasound contrast agents (gas-filled microspheres, or microbubbles). Her work has consistently bridged fundamental imaging sciences with translational biomedical research. As an Established Investigator of the American Heart Association, she has been a leader in the development of microbubbles for the assessment of myocardial perfusion and ultrasound molecular imaging with targeted microbubbles for the detection of inflammatory and angiogenic endothelial markers in pre-clinical models of heart disease. The Villanueva lab has pioneered the development and application of microbubbles as molecular probes and acoustic detection strategies for optimizing imaging sensitivity. They have applied fundamental principles of ultrasound and the physics of microbubble acoustic behaviors to develop novel targeted molecular therapeutics, whereby nucleic acid loaded microbubbles (siRNA, miRNA, plasmid), in the presence of precisely tuned ultrasound, selectively enhance membrane permeability and deliver payloads to the target site. These studies are conducted at the Center for Ultrasound Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics, a translational multidisciplinary research facility that epitomizes the reciprocal relationship between imaging sciences and biomedical translational research. Moreover, Dr. Villanueva has a recent R01-funded collaboration with Dr. Pandrea, a fellow mentor on this proposal, as to how ultrasound molecular imaging may evaluate endothelial activation in HIV pathogenesis, which may prove useful for potential trainees of this grant.
As the founding Director of the Center for Ultrasound Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics and Director of Non-Invasive Cardiac Imaging for the Heart and Vascular Institute at UPMC, Dr. Villanueva has continuous exposure to a pool of outstanding trainees and is deeply committed to mentoring them as future clinical and basic translational scientists. She has mentored MD and PhD post-docs (AHA fellowships, NRSA, international grants); medical students (Clinical Science and Physician Scientist Training Programs at the University of Pittsburgh; Howard Hughes Medical Institute); undergraduates (Independent Study); and high school students (summer research) throughout her 23-year career. Additionally, she has served or actively serves on 9 PhD committees and is a Training Faculty member on 4 T32s at the University of Pittsburgh, including serving as program director for a cardiology imaging T32.
JoAnne Flynn, PhD
Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
Dr. Flynn has worked in the field of tuberculosis research for 25 years, including post-doctoral training in Dr. Barry Bloom’s lab where she initiated studies in the immunology of tuberculosis (TB) using knockout mice. Fifteen years ago, Dr. Flynn began the development of non-human primate models of TB, and she has used this model for studies in the pathogenesis and immunology of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. The Flynn lab has demonstrated that cynomolgus macaques naturally present with the full spectrum of M. tuberculosis infection outcomes seen in humans, from latent to active infection, and replicate the pathology of human TB. She has used this model to study pathogenesis, immunology, pathology and interventions (drugs, vaccines, immunodulation) with great success, and she has devised several unique methods for analyzing these monkeys. The Flynn lab has also developed methodology and analytics tools for incorporating PET/CT into their studies for serial tracking and quantitative readouts of infection and disease progression. Using a PET/CT scan as a map, the Flynn lab obtains individual granulomas and other more complex pathologies for ex vivo analysis, which is unique to her lab. She has developed methodology and scoring systems used by many in the field for pathology and bacterial burden, and her lab is seen as expert in non-human primate models of tuberculosis. Dr. Flynn has extended her studies into additional non-human primate models, including rhesus macaques and the common marmoset.
Dr. Flynn has substantial experience in training graduate students, post-docs, and medical fellows, having served as Director of the Molecular Virology and Microbiology Graduate Program for 5 years and on the Admissions Committee for 6 years. She is also the Director of a T32 in Immunology of Infectious Diseases (in year 12).
Philana Ling Lin, MD, MSc
Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Diseases
Dr. Lin has 14 years of research experience in the immunology and pathogenesis of M. tuberculosis infection and has been directly involved in the development and use of the non-human primate model to better understand human M. tuberculosis infection. Dr. Lin’s work includes examining the early events during acute M. tuberculosis infection from both the host and pathogen standpoint, host immune specific factors that control and maintain latent infection, SIV-TB co-infection, drug treatments against TB, vaccine trials and immune control and biomarkers of reactivation. She has been involved in teaching and training undergraduate students, graduate students, post-doctoral candidates, medical students, resident and fellows both at the bench, in the classroom and at the bedside. As the Program Director for the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Fellowship program at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh for 4 years, Dr. Lin is actively involved in mentoring pediatric fellows.
Margaret Ragni, MD, MPH
Professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology-Oncology
Professor of Clinical and Translational Science
Director, Hemophilia Center of Western Pennsylvania
Throughout her career, Dr. Ragni has been involved in clinical translational studies relevant to congenital hemostatic and thrombotic disorders including the effects of HIV in hemophilia. She has served as the chair of clinical trials, prospective epidemiologic, observational, case-control studies, cost-effectiveness analyses, and investigator-initiated new drug trials in hemophilia and Von Willebrand disease (VWD). Dr. Ragni’s studies were among the first multi-center NIH-funded investigator-initiated studies in hemophilia malignancy (NCI), hemophilia inhibitor formation (NHLBI), hemophilia HIV/HCV infection (NHLBI), hemophilia AIDS therapy (NIAID), and hemophilia adult prophylaxis (NHLBI). Additionally, she has served as Co-Chair for State of the Science SOS Hemophilia & VWD Subcommittee to design future trials, three funded by NHLBI. Dr. Ragni has collaborated on multi-center organ transplant HIV trials (NIAID), hemophilia gene therapy trials (NHLBI); VWD genotype-phenotype studies (NHLBI); extended half-life protein trials for hemophilia; and rhIL-11 and recombinant VWF for VWD. She serves as medical director of the Hemophilia Center of Western PA, and member of the National Hemophilia Foundation Medical & Scientific Advisory Committee. Moreover, Dr. Ragni also collaborates with the Multicenter AIDS Cohort study with Dr. Rinaldo to examine VWF and endothelial dysfunction and cardiovascular disease in HIV.
Dan Buysse, MD
UPMC Professor of Sleep Medicine
Professor of Psychiatry and Clinical and Translational Science
Dr. Buysse has over 30 years of experience conducting clinical and translational research in sleep medicine. His research addresses several related themes: the development and validation of self-report measures for sleep; the assessment, pathophysiology, and treatment of insomnia; the development and evaluation of behavioral treatments for sleep disorders; the relationships between sleep and mental disorders, and between sleep and aging; and sleep as a risk factor for health outcomes. Dr. Buysse’s research has involved healthy younger and older adults, individuals with insomnia, and individuals with major depression and other psychiatric disorders. His work has led to over 320 peer-reviewed publications.
Dr. Buysse has a long record of teaching and mentoring. He has mentored 22 post-doctoral fellows, 12 of these as primary research mentor. He has also mentored 15 undergraduate or medical students. 14/20 (70%) of his eligible post-docs have received NIH Career Development (K) awards, and 11/15 (73%) of eligible post-docs have subsequently received NIH R-series or equivalent research awards. Dr. Buysse is Program Director of the Translational Research Training in Sleep Medicine T32 and is on the training faculty of five other T32 programs and the institutional KL2 program. Dr. Buysse is Director of the Clinical Research Resources and Facilities Core of the University of Pittsburgh CTSI, and he is Director of the Department of Psychiatry Research Review Committee. He is the prior recipient of a K24 award.
Christopher O’Donnell, PhD
Professor of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine
Professor of Cell Biology
Executive Vice Chair of Academic Affairs, Department of Medicine
As a postdoctoral fellow at UCSF, Dr. O’Donnell was trained in integrative physiology of the cardiovascular and endocrine systems (including blocking cardiac nerves) and recognized the importance of conducting experiments in freely behaving animals. These skills led him naturally into the field of sleep physiology during his first faculty appointment at Johns Hopkins Medical School. After several years of successful study in a chronically- instrumented dog model of obstructive sleep apnea, Dr. O’Donnell was excited by the experimental power of transgenic mouse models and ‘retooled’ to work in mice – but again with a strong focus on conducting physiology in behaving animals. Just over a decade later, he has developed powerful experimental models in behaving mice including cardiorespiratory and endocrine responses across sleep/wake states, the hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp, the frequently sampled intravenous glucose tolerance test, and automated feedback systems for induction of intermittent hypoxia and sleep fragmentation. Dr. O’Donnell also has a passion and extensive experience in mentoring and training postdoctoral fellows both directly in the laboratory setting and also in overall career development. He has supervised many post-doctoral fellows who have been successful at the NRSA, K, and R-level funding and lead multiple career development initiatives, including Grant Writing Workshops, chairing K-to-R transition committees, organizing fellows’ Research Retreats, and coordinating the bi-annual trainee performance reviews. As Co-Director on four NIH T32 training grants, Dr. O’Donnell brings a considerable amount of experience and enthusiasm in regards to training the next generation of scientists and physician scientists, and his expertise in sleep physiology in animal systems will bring unique expertise to the study of sleep-related issues in HIV-infected individuals.
Sanjay Patel, MD, MS
Professor of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine
Director, Center for Sleep and Cardiovascular Outcomes Research
Medical Director, UPMC Sleep Laboratory
Dr. Patel is a physician scientist focused on sleep epidemiology, particularly on the impact of sleep apnea on cardio-metabolic outcomes. As the Director of the new Center for Sleep and Cardiovascular Outcomes Research at the University of Pittsburgh, he is building a program that aims to understand the ability to improve health outcomes through sleep-focused interventions. Among his interests are using electronic health records to study relationships between obstructive sleep apnea and the development of cardiovascular diseases, studying the impact of obstructive sleep apnea treatment on patients with diabetes, and improving care delivery models for sleep care. Dr. Patel is deeply committed to mentoring the next generation of scientists, having mentored trainees at all levels from high school students to junior faculty in his laboratory, as well as having chaired an annual 2.5-day program on mentoring young investigators in sleep medicine sponsored jointly by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Futhermore, Dr. Patel has an interest in sleep disorders in HIV and has been developing projects with Dr. Morris and Dr. Macatangay in this area that could serve as projects for Scholars, including a recently awarded R01, “ Impact of Poor Sleep on Inflammation and the Adenosine Signaling Pathway in HIV Infection.”
Zandrea Ambrose, PhD
Associate Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
The Ambrose laboratory studies antiretroviral therapeutics used for HIV-1 prevention and suppression. She uses molecular, cellular, and genetic approaches as well as in vivo models to address areas of HIV-1 research, such as biology of HIV-host protein interactions; novel HIV inhibitors and drug resistance; novel methods for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and antiretroviral therapy delivery; the effect of PrEP and drug resistance on mucosal transmission; and HIV evolution and persistence in blood and tissues.
Cristian Apetrei, MD, PhD
Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
The overall goal of Dr. Apetrei’s research is the use nonhuman primates (NHP) to understand the pathogenesis of HIV infection, and identify and test strategies for an HIV cure, for controlling disease progression, and for targeting comorbidities associated with HIV. Over the years, the Apetrei lab has used multiple NHP species (macaques, African green monkeys, sooty mangabeys, black mangabeys, mandrills, baboons, and patas monkeys) to model different aspects of HIV infection. During these studies, Dr. Apetrei characterized SIV infection in the wild, discovered new viruses, established new paradigms of HIV infection, and tested new therapeutic approaches to reduce the clinical burden of HIV infection. Over the years, he has taught medical and graduate students especially in the field of microbiology. The Apetrei laboratory has an open-door policy for undergraduate students that need initial training for biomedical research (it currently hosts six undergraduate students). Additionally, all of his graduate fellows are currently faculty at major universities, medical doctors in academic hospitals, or NIH-based scientists.
Moses Bility, PhD
Assistant Professor of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology
Dr. Bility’s research focuses on leveraging regenerative medicine technologies in developing humanized animal models with human immune system and other organ systems, including human liver and skin. Additionally, his research program seeks to elucidate the role of monocytes/macrophage activation in a myriad of human inflammatory diseases, including HIV infection, viral hepatitis infections, etc., in humanized animal models. The Bility lab has trained several graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in developing humanized mouse models and studying HIV pathogenesis, ART-mediated HIV prevention and HIV-associated cardiovascular disease.
Man Charurat, PhD, MHS
Professor of Medicine, Institute of Human Virology
Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health
Director, Institute of Human Virology, Division of Epidemiology and Prevention
As the Director of the Institute for Human Virology (IHV) Division of Epidemiology and Prevention and as a trained infectious disease epidemiologist, Dr. Charurat has over 15 years of research experience among vulnerable and key populations, HIV treatment and prevention service delivery, and HIV surveillance of acute HIV infection in high-risk populations. In the mid-1990s, Dr. Charurat was an active investigator in the NIH-funded Women and Infants Transmission Study (WITS) when mother-to-child HIV transmission was fairly high in the U.S., and in the early 2000s, he pioneered the mobile recruitment platform that successfully provided PEPFAR services to key populations such as female sex workers, men who have sex with men, and higher-risk pregnant women. Dr. Charurat published a first molecular characterization of circulating HIV-1 infections in Nigeria and is working with the CDC and the GON to improve incidence rate determination and surveillance across different populations in Nigeria. Currently, he is PI on three NIH R01 grants: MARGIN characterizes microbiome among HIV-Exposed but uninfected infants in Nigeria; Building TRUST targets marginalized MSM and determine intervention for treatment as prevention (TasP) and pre-exposure prophylaxis ARV (PrEP); and ADAPT is an HIV adolescent transition to adult care study. Additionally, he just completed another R01 studying barriers to engaging MSM in services in Nigeria. Furthermore, Dr. Charurat is PI of a CDC-funded PEPFAR evaluation grant entitled: “Strengthening HIV Field Epidemiology, Infectious Diseases Surveillance, and Lab Diagnostics Project.” As a mentor on this grant, Dr. Charurat intends on training the next generation of investigators and can provide experiences in both the Inner-city HIV and International HIV focus areas.
Bernard Macatangay, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases
Assistant Director, University of Pittsburgh Immunology Specialty Lab (ACTG)
The overall goal of Dr. Macatangay’s research is to further define the immunoregulatory network and inhibitory checkpoints involved in HIV-1 infection to investigate their role in chronic inflammation and HIV latency, and to devise successful immune therapeutic strategies to decrease chronic inflammation and contribute to HIV-1 cure. He is the Laboratory PI and the Co-PI of two NIH/NIAID U01 grants: one investigating the role of the adenosine suppression pathway in chronic HIV-associated inflammation and one focusing on a comparative analysis of dendritic cell-based vaccine strategies for functional cure of HIV. As the Laboratory PI, Dr. Macatangay is responsible for the overall coordination of the laboratory aspects of the projects and in developing and directing all the immunoregulatory lab assays that are performed in his laboratory. Additionally, he is the Assistant Director of the University of Pittsburgh ACTG Immunology Specialty Laboratory and the Clinical Laboratory Director of the University of Pittsburgh Clinical Research Site. He also serves as the Protocol Immunologist in 5 ACTG Cure Protocols, A5315 (Romidepsin for activation of HIV-1 expression), A5321/A5341s (Decay of HIV-1 reservoirs in subjects on long-term ART), and A5342 (VRC01 on HIV persistence), A5370 (Anti-PD1 anitbody in HIV), A5374 (therapeutic vaccine with conserved HIV-1 immunogens), and two ACTG Inflammation studies, A5286 (Rifaximin as a modulator of microbial translocation) and A5325/A5330s (Isotretinoin on immune activation in blood and gut tissue). Additionally, Dr. Macatangay is the protocol Co-chair of ACTG A5347s which involves sampling anatomic compartments in participants who will undergo a monitored antiretroviral pause. An elected member of the ACTG HIV Reservoirs and Viral Eradication TSG, he also serves as an investigator in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS), where he chairs the Viral Immune Pathogenesis Working Group.
Sharon Riddler, MD
Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases
Director of Clinical Research, Division of Infectious Diseases
With more than 20 years of experience in clinical research funded by the NIH and industry, Dr. Riddler is the Co-PI of the NIH/DAIDS-funded Pitt-OSU HIV/AIDS Clinical Trials Unit and has been the Site Leader for the University of Pittsburgh Clinical Research Site (affiliated with both the AIDS Clinical Trials Group and the Microbicide Trials Network) since 2006. Dr. Riddler is responsible for implementation of all trials conducted at the Pitt CRS for the ACTG, MTN, and other sponsors. She is well versed in clinical trial design and protocol development, having been Chair or Co-Chair for several network studies in the ACTG (A5115, A5142, A5276s, A5342, and A5374) and MTN (MTN-015 and MTN-003B), as well as a protocol in development (MTN-039) for a safety and pharmacokinetic study of an elvitegravir rectal insert for HIV prevention. Moreover, she is Co-PI for two U01 funded pilot studies in HIV: a recently completed trial of dipyridamole for immune activation, and a newly funded study of dendritic cell based therapeutic vaccination.
Charles Rinaldo, PhD
Professor and Chair, Infectious Diseases and Microbiology
Professor of Pathology
Dr. Rinaldo’s basic research laboratory focuses on studies of innate and adaptive immunity in the immunopathogenesis of HIV and human herpesvirus 8 (KSHV) infections linked to the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study and AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG). Dr. Rinaldo also directs an Immunology Specialty Laboratory in the ACTG focused on cell immunity, regulation and immune activation in the ACTG HIV Reservoirs, and Viral Eradication Transformative Science Group. His HIV research centers on the dynamics of dendritic cell-T cell interactions leading to anti-HIV immune reactivity as a model for immunotherapy of antiretroviral drug treated HIV-1 infected persons, with the ultimate goal of eradicating their HIV reservoir. Dr. Rinaldo’s clinical specialty is diagnostic virology, with emphasis on molecular methods for rapid detection of herpesvirus and influenza virus infections. He has primary responsibility for diagnostic molecular virology in the UPMC Clinical Microbiology Laboratory that serves over 30 regional hospitals and associated clinical sites and has advised numerous postdoctoral fellows and graduate students in these areas of research. As chair of the Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology and the founding PI of the Pittsburgh Multicenter AIDS Cohort study, Dr. Rinaldo will help provide a strong pipeline of candidates for post-doctoral training in the K12 program.
Thomas Smithgall, PhD
William S. McEllroy Professor and Chair, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
Dr. Smithgall’s research interests are centered on the role of protein-tyrosine kinase signaling pathways in cancer, HIV/AIDS, and embryonic stem cell differentiation. His research program is interdisciplinary, integrating techniques of chemical genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology and biophysics to gain insight into the role of kinase signaling pathways in ES cell fate, cancer and AIDS. For more than 25 years, graduate students and postdocs have played a critical role in all of the Smithgall lab’s research efforts, and mentoring has been one of the most rewarding aspects of his career. Graduate Program Director for the Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics Graduate Program of the Interdisciplinary Biomedical Graduate Program (IBGP) for six years, and as member and chair of the admissions committee for the IBGP, Dr. Smithgall has mentored nineteen graduate students (PhD/MD-PhD) and 14 postdocs have completed research in his laboratory to date, with four Ph.D. students and two postdocs currently under his mentorship. All of Dr. Smithgall’s trainees have published and gone on to careers in basic research (industrial and academic), clinical medicine, STEM education, or science and public policy.