Clinical and Retrovirology Research Core

Enhanced Data and
Specimen Collection Service

The Clinical and Retrovirology Research Core provides a specimen collection and storage service for approved investigators who lack the funds or infrastructure needed to procure the clinical specimens necessary for their research.
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The Clinical and Retrovirology Research Core helps investigators perform clinical studies through:

  • Supporting recruitment into clinical, laboratory, and socio-behavioral research studies by triage and referral of HIV-infected patients (or HIV-negative controls) through a dedicated research nurse at the Harborview and University of Washington HIV clinics.
  • Providing and developing virology laboratory support and services, including virological assays to detect markers of HIV disease progression and regression, and assistance with assay development.


Both basic and clinical scientists at CFAR benefit from the services and consultations of the Core.  Our dedicated research nurses at Harborview and University of Washington HIV clinics speed the recruitment, screening, and enrollment of appropriate patients into new translational studies.

With our HIV Specimen Repository—which contains frozen plasma, serum, PBMC and PaxGene specimens linked to extensive clinical data—we offer immediate access to large numbers of well characterized samples for translational studies. The Core’s HIV Specimen Bank also provides researchers with a ready infrastructure for collecting and storing specimens for new clinical and pathogenesis studies. Most patient records reflect serial specimen donations (3X/year) with full data linked from electronic medical records, including virologic, immunologic, infectious, genetic, and demographic factors.

In addition, advanced virology services and support offered by the Core allow CFAR investigators to monitor key indicators of HIV pathogenesis, transmission risk, disease progression, drug susceptibility, and post-treatment regression. Core faculty apply the most appropriate methods for preparing specimens and select the best current technology and protocols for quantifying proteins or nucleic acids. Core faculty can assist with design, methods, quality assurance, and data interpretation in clinical studies of AIDS/HIV. They can partner with CFAR researchers to develop novel laboratory methods for determining viral loads in various compartments and correlating these HIV markers with clinical outcomes.

To help researchers incorporate or adapt the latest laboratory tools into their study planning and design, the Core provides training, education, and workshops for CFAR investigators. In their own research, the Core faculty also evaluate new technologies and compare alternative laboratory methods using good clinical laboratory practice methods.

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Services, Activities, People, Contact


The monthly AIDS Clinical Conference is designed to increase the knowledge of healthcare practitioners about HIV/AIDS. Speakers at the conferences are leaders in the fields of research and treatment for HIV/AIDS. Conference attendees gain cutting-edge knowledge of the pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment of HIV/AIDS conditions.

The Clinical and Retrovirology Research Core provides a specimen collection and storage service for approved investigators who lack the funds or infrastructure needed to procure the clinical specimens necessary for their research.

The Clinical and Retrovirology Research Core supports recruitment into clinical and pathogenesis research studies through triage and referral of eligible HIV-infected patients via a dedicated research nurse at the Harborview and University of Washington HIV Clinics.

The HIV Specimen Repository is a collection of frozen plasma, PBMC, serum and PaxGene specimens donated by HIV infected patients cared for at the University of Washington HIV clinics (the Madison and Roosevelt Virology Clinics).

A wide variety of virological markers for HIV disease and progression are available through this Core.

The HIV Negative Registry is a registry of at-risk, HIV-negative individuals who are interested in participating in HIV-related research.


The Clinical and Retrovirology Research Core has helped accelerate the funding and progress of many important studies—especially smaller studies or those championed by new investigators who have limited budgets or require mentoring with clinical, laboratory, or regulatory aspects of their research.

Examples of Core efforts include:
Increasing Enrollment of HIV+ Patients into Multiple Research Studies.

  • Full-time recruitment efforts by the Core’s dedicated study nurse coordinator at UW HIV clinics to boost enrollment in CFAR HIV studies
  • As of January 2012, the referral service has enrolled 1873 patients.
  • Example: As part of small study on Self Compassion and HIV, Joachim Voss, PhD, RN, UW, received support in recruiting patients

Providing Access to Thousands of Data-Rich Frozen Specimens

  • Ongoing collection of plasma, serum, and PBMC specimens from HIV+ patients at UW HIV clinics with high technical and ethical/consent standards and full attention to research relevancy (eg, focus on recruitment of newly infected patients, treatment-naïve patients, and those with hepatitis C coinfections)
  • As of January 2013, the Repository has enrolled 1461 subjects, obtaining over 46,000 and 31,000 aliquots of plasma and PBMCs, respectively.
  • Example: Contributed specimens from Repository for study of genetic risk factors for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in AIDS (w/ Dr. Charles Rabkin, National Cancer Institute).  

Relieving Research Partner of Need to Re-Invent Specimen Collection Service

  • Established IRB-approvable protocol for smooth collection of new samples
  • Example: Made validation study more cost effective by providing a ready-built specimen collection service with associated specimen banking (w/ Chris Crudder, PATH.  Validation of an ICS Point-of-Care CD4 Testing Device)


Robert Harrington, MD, Core Director

Bob Coombs, MD, PhD, Co-Director

Jairam Lingappa, MD, PhD, Associate Director

Lisa Frenkel, MD, Associate Director

Joan Dragavon, MLS, Research Scientist
dragavon at

Michalina Montaño, MS, Program Manager
micham at

Lindsay Legg, LPN, Research Nurse Coordinator
lmlegg at

Jacob Keane-Candib, BA, Research Coordinator
jpkc at

Core Committee: Connie Celum, MD, MPH; Robert Harrington, MD; Ann Collier, MD; Robert Coombs, MD, PhD; Joan Dragavon, MLM; Mari Kitahata, MD, MPH; Jairam Lingappa, MD, PhD; Stephen Van Rompaey, PhD; Jeanne Marrazzo, MD, MPH; Matthew Golden, MD, MPH.


325 9th Ave
UW Box 359930
Seattle, WA 98104
cfarcrc at
(206) 744.4630