STD/AIDS Research Training Fellowship Program
Sociobehavioral STD/AIDS Research Track
Martina Morris, PhD. and Sevgi Aral PhD, Co-Directors
Overview: The behavioral sciences training program for STD and AIDS research attracts postdoctoral behavioral scientists specializing in STD research, predoctoral behavioral science students who intend to focus on behavioral aspects of STD; and non-behavioral science trainees who wish to complement their basic science or biomedical training with focused training in selective areas of social, behavioral and prevention research. Trainees come from diverse backgrounds, including predoctoral students with anthropology, MPH and MSW degrees and postdoctoral students with training in anthropology, epidemiology, and medicine. These interdisciplinary skills have become increasingly necessary as the field of STD/AIDS research has evolved towards enhanced understanding of the relation between individual behavior and population level transmission dynamics, the role of sexual and social networks in the spread of infection, and the need for combined biomedical and behavioral approaches to prevention and treatment. This has encouraged more rigorous methodological approaches to behavioral and health services intervention research, with greater attention to the interaction between individual, relational and community level factors. This track seeks to prepare the next generation of sociobehavioral investigators to participate in this multi-disciplinary environment. Fellows are trained to conduct scientifically rigorous quantitative and qualitative research on the interaction of social, behavioral and biomedical determinants of HIV & STI infections. This will prepare them to develop high quality behavioral measures and analytic techniques, to plan and implement individual and community randomized trials to assess the efficacy of behavioral and health services interventions and, if they choose, to specialize in the mathematical modeling of STI & HIV transmission dynamics.
There has been substantial growth and change in the training resources available to this track. The changes reflect institutional investments in programs that support research and training in sociobehavioral prevention science: a growing, dynamic Sociobehavioral and Prevention Research Core in the UW CFAR, a new program in Mathematical Modeling for HIV prevention (also in the UW CFAR), and the establishment of the new Department of Global Health at the UW. These investments have expanded the number of faculty and research opportunities available to students interested in the sociobehavioral sciences. Perhaps most importantly, our program has worked hard to make sociobehavioral science an integral part of the HIV/STD research and training activities at the UW. These efforts are exemplified by the new "Global Partnerships for Social Science Research on HIV/AIDS" center grant awarded to the University of Washington (NICHD). This capacity building grant will establish a new center at the University of Nairobi that brings together social and biomedical scientists working on HIV prevention. The project will provide opportunities for training, mentoring and research for students interested in sociobehavioral and prevention research.
This Track seeks to prepare the next generation of sociobehavioral investigators to participate in this multi-disciplinary environment. This training will prepare fellows to conduct scientifically rigorous quantitative and qualitative research on the social and behavioral determinants of biomedical outcomes. It will prepare them to develop high quality behavioral measures and analytic techniques, and to plan and implement the necessary individual and community randomized trials to assess the efficacy of behavioral and health services interventions.
Didactic Curriculum and Additional Seminar Training and Mentoring for Pre-doctoral and Post-doctoral Trainees: All trainees participate in the STD and AIDS Core Curriculum. In addition, as of 2005, the Sociobehavioral track has been anchored by the new NMETH 515 / EPI 549 - Sociobehavioral & Prevention Research Methods for HIV & STI. Trainees also take didactic coursework in areas pertinent to their planned research (i.e., health services, environmental health, psychology, sociology, statistics and biostatistics, social work or public affairs). For predoctoral trainees, such courses are typically integrated into the degree program (MPH or PhD) of their home department. Individuals pursuing the MPH degree, for example, could enter the Social and Behavioral Sciences program in the School of Public Health, and take courses from the following list: Community Approaches to Health Promotion; Health Economics; Theoretical Perspectives on Health Behavior Change, Health and Society; Environmental Risk and Society; Health and Mental Health Policy, and Interdisciplinary Approaches to Prevention Science.
For trainees interested in network epidemiology there is a new foundation course on Statistical Analysis of Social Networks. Additional courses on social network theory and methods are taught by the Sociology department. For trainees interested in mathematical modeling, there is a new foundation course, Analytic Methods On Infectious Diseases. In addition, there are a number of relevant courses in Anthropology, Applied Mathematics, Mathematics, Statistics, Biology and Fisheries.
Pre- and postdoctoral trainees are also encouraged to participate in the many research seminars, journal clubs and working groups on campus that focus on HIV/STD, sociobehavioral research, and statistical methods. Regular seminars of particular interest are conducted in the Center for Demography and Ecology and the Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences in the School of Arts and Sciences, the Prevention Research Center and the Social Development Research Group in the School of Social Work, and the CFAR Sociobehavioral and Prevention Research Core. In addition, several research working groups welcome training fellow participation; examples include the network modeling group, the mathematical modeling group, the population genetics group, and the CFAR A-CASI working group. These groups offer high-level interdisciplinary collaborative experiences at the leading edge of their fields.
Faculty: 15 faculty members participate in the Sociobehavioral Track, including 8 training faculty and 7 resource faculty. Faculty resources for this track have both grown and become more cohesive during the past five years. There is now a stronger tie to the social science departments in the UW School of Arts and Sciences, a group of faculty with interests in networks and the mathematical modeling of HIV/STD transmission, and an intellectual community built around the new Sociobehavioral and Prevention Research core of the UW CFAR.
Research Training Opportunities: Research opportunities for trainees in the Sociobehavioral track are characterized by involvement in research projects with strongly multidisciplinary designs. A short synopsis describing the research of the 6 senior and 2 new training faculty is provided below, but trainees are often involved in projects headed by faculty from other tracks.
- Aral, Sevgi PhD, Track Co-Director,
Training Faculty Dr. Aral's work has focused on risk
and preventive behaviors, gender differences, societal characteristics that
influence STD and HIV rates, contextual issues and effects of distinct types
of sexual mixing on STD spread. Her research involves both domestic and international
settings and her writings have included cross-cultural comparative analyses.
Dr. Aral, while located at the Centers for Disease Control, has been very
closely affiliated with the UW Center for AIDS & STD for over 15 years,
where she has served as Project Leader on UW-based STD CRC grants, has served
as training faculty and track co-director on this grant, and has co-mentored
UW-based trainees in the sociobehavioral track.
- Morris, Martina PhD, Track
Co-Director, Training Faculty Dr. Morris
is the founding director of the Sociobehavioral and Prevention Research Core
in the UW CFAR, the founding co-director of the UW CFAR's scientific program
on mathematical modeling, and the co-PI of the FIC Frameworks in Global Health
project at the UW. During the past 20 years she has been a pioneer in the
application of network theory and methods to the study of HIV/STI transmission.
Her work with M. Kretzschmar drew attention to the role of concurrent partnerships
in the spread of HIV. She currently heads a large interdisciplinary, international
team of scholars who seek to integrate network survey design, data collection,
statistical models, and dynamic simulations, to ensure a strong connection
between theory, methods and data. Her interest in developing feasible methods
for network data collection and analysis has culminated in the first guide
to network survey design "Network Epidemiology: A Handbook for Survey Design
and Data Collection". The modeling and network simulation project has released
a computer package, statnet, that is available here
- Goodreau, Steven PhD, Junior
Training Faculty The goal of our Statistical modeling for social
networks project is to develop statistical models to identify the degree to
which local network characteristics (assortative mixing, concurrency) determine
HIV/STD transmission potential in sexual and needle-sharing networks. My contributions
include developing statistical methods for ascertaining goodness of fit between
social network models and data, coding software, and using developed models
to analyze data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.
The goal of our Assessing the population-level impact of recency on the African
HIV epidemic work is to ascertain the fraction of new HIV infections in a
population that are generated by people who are themselves recently infected,
and to decompose this pattern into its biological and behavioral determinants.
The project entails the integration of sexual behavior data from Zimbabwe
with published virological data through the use of social network modeling.
- Morrison, Diane PhD,
Training Faculty Dr. Morrison's work focuses on reproductive
and sexual behavior: theory development and testing; application of these
models to reproductive decision making, sexual safety, and other health-related
behaviors; and development and testing of interventions. She recently completed
an intervention project, Replicating a Peer Intervention in a Multi-cultural
City, funded by NICHD. With colleagues at NIAAA, she is co-PI on Adolescent
Substance Use and HIV Risk: Event Analysis (Barbara Leigh, PI) and Alcohol
and Women's Cognitive Mediation of HIV Risk Taking (Jeanette Norris, PI).
She is also co-PI for a study of sexual minority youth needs for sexual health
education, funded by NIMH (Blair Beadnell, PI). Morrison's work on teenage
mothers focuses on expanding the Theory of Reasoned Action model to include
antecedents of decision making, and modeling the transmission of beliefs/
attitudes from parents to children.
- Simoni, Jane PhD,Training
Faculty Dr. Simoni's primary interests are in clinical health
and community psychology in oppressed and stigmatized populations. She is
an authority on the social and psychological adaptation of persons living
with HIV/AIDS, including issues related to the disclosure of HIV infection.
Additionally, she is an expert on HAART adherence, having been involved in
intervention trials as a PI (on two R01s involving peer support and pagers),
a Co-PI (R21 targeting active drug users), and a consultant (CDC-funded pediatric
adherence trial). She is a mentor on two additional adherence trials (in Seattle
and Kenya). Most recently, she has undertaken the development of an antiretroviral
adherence program in China (as PI of an R34) and is collaborating on a qualitative
study of aiming to develop a model of adherence in Uganda.
- Stovel, Katherine PhD, Training
Faculty Dr. Stovel is a sociologist with broad interests in
adolescent health, social and sexual networks, and social influences on individual
behavior. For over a decade, Dr. Stovel has been associated with the Add Health
Study, a multi-million dollar, nationally representative study of adolescent
health. Dr. Stovel has used these data to document the structure of a complete
sexual and romantic network among interacting adolescents residing in a mid-sized
mid-western town. With Drs. Holmes and Taraneh Shaffi (a training grant supported
Adolescent Medicine fellow), she has explored the causes and consequences
of early condom use among adolescents.
- Walters, Karina PhD, Training
Faculty Dr. Walters is William B. and Ruth Gerberding endowed
professor in the School of Social Work. Her research interests include American
Indian and Alaska Native health, mental health, alcohol and substance abuse,
and other wellness area. Additionally she conducts research in multicultural
social work practice identity, enculturation and cultural factor that buffer
the effect of historical trauma, discrimination, and other forms of trauma
and violence on indigenous wellness outcomes In collaboration with Dr. Simoni,
she has investigated the effect of physical and sexual trauma on HIV risk
in Native American women.
- Wasserheit, Judith MD,
MPH, Training Faculty Dr. Wasserheit collaborates
with Larry Corey, Steve Self, Julie McElrath to examine the impact of intercurrent
STDs on efficacy of CTL-mediated HIV preventive vaccine candidates, conducted
through the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN). Ongoing trials are evaluating
immunogenicity, efficacy and correlates of protection in geographically and
demographically diverse populations around the world. Research interests also
interest include the impact of vaccine on HIV transmission at the community
level, the impact of intercurrent STDs on vaccine efficacy, and determinants
of enrollment in vaccine trials among high priority populations such as women
of color in the US. With Drs. Holmes and Taraneh Shafii, we are assessing
the use of social networking sites to deliver prevention intervention to reduce
the incidence of STDs and pregnancy in adolescents.
Additional Opportunities Unique to this Track: In addition to fellowships
and postdoctoral training opportunities available to other trainees in the
field of HIV & STD prevention, trainees in this track are likely to
be eligible for advanced fellowships and research funding offered by organizations
that support social science and demography, including the Population Council
which supports predoctoral, postdoctoral or midcareer training in reproductive
health for researchers who focus on developing countries (Population Council
is partnering with the UW for the new Social Science and HIV center grant
in Kenya); the Social Science Research Council, which provides pre- and
postdoctoral support for social and behavioral research on sexuality for
researchers who focus on the US; and the US Census Bureau Postdoctoral research
fellowship program. Trainees whose interests are in the mathematical modeling
of HIV/STD transmission have successfully applied for the Santa Fe Institute
Complex Systems Summer School, and attended the Imperial College (London)
short course, Epidemiology and Control of Infectious Diseases: Introduction
to Mathematical Models of Global And Emerging Infections. School.
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