Happy New Year from the Emory CFAR!

On behalf of the Emory CFAR leadership team, we hope the new year is off to a great start for you!  We are both hopeful for what 2022 will bring to the local HIV research community and energized by a very productive last year for the Emory CFAR. Let’s take a minute to reflect on a few successes from 2021:

WELCOMED NEW LEADERSHIP THROUGHOUT THE CFAR 
In January 2021, we welcomed Ann Chahroudi, MD, PhD and Colleen Kelley, MD, MPH to the Emory CFAR senior leadership team. Chahroudi was appointed as the Co-Director for Basic Science, and Kelley was appointed as the Co-Director for Prevention Science. This change was the first in our Emory CFAR strategic succession plan to identify and mentor the next generation of HIV research leaders, increase diversity across the CFAR, and bring new voices to the table to push science forward.  Read the Emory press release for details. That momentum continued in August 2021 when new leadership joined our Developmental Core and all five science Cores. Learn more about these changes here.  In October 2021, we launched two new CFAR Scientific Working Groups (SWGs) – the Health Equity SWG and Next Generation Therapeutics SWG.  For the first time in the history of the CFAR, the leadership of the Health Equity SWG includes an Emory investigator (Sophia Hussen, MD, MPH), a Morehouse School of Medicine investigator (Rhonda Holliday, PhD, MA), and a community advocate (Alphonso Mills, BA). To learn about the SWGs and their top-notch leadership teams, click here.

SUBMITTED A STRONG NIH CFAR COMPETITIVE RENEWAL APPLICATION
In July 2021, we submitted our fifth NIH CFAR competitive renewal application (in total 1,045 pages!). This milestone reflects months of preparation, collaboration, innovation, and late nights of work from Emory CFAR leaders and staff. We are pleased to announce that our application was reviewed very favorably in December and that we received an outstanding priority score. In particular, reviewers applauded our forward-thinking succession plans, the breadth and volume of science supported through our Cores, the productivity of our early- and mid-career investigators as demonstrated through the return on our Developmental Core pilot program ($2.47M CFAR investment resulting in a $42.7M NIH return), the CFAR’s strong institutional support, and a robust partnership between the CFAR and the local community, spearheaded by our Community Liaison Council.

WITNESSED HIV RESEARCH CONTINUE TO GROW AT EMORY
Since we submitted our first CFAR application in 1997, NIH-funded HIV research at Emory has grown leaps and bounds.  In FY97 we had a little over $8 million dollars of NIH-funded HIV research. We recently learned that for FY21, Emory investigators received over $73 million dollars in HIV research from NIH! This incredible growth placed Emory as one of the top six research universities in total HIV research dollars received from NIH.  Serving as the cornerstone of Emory University’s transdisciplinary HIV research community, the CFAR provided scientific leadership and critical services to nearly 440 investigators over the last five years.

SUPPORTED THE LAUNCH OF MAJOR NEW HIV RESEARCH EFFORTS AT EMORY
In 2021, the CFAR was proud to support the launch of two new HIV research programs at Emory.  The first program is the NIH-funded Martin Delaney Collaboratories (MDC) for HIV Cure Research.  Emory CFAR Members, Deanna Kulpa, PhD, Mirko Paiardini, PhD, and Guido Silvestri, MD were awarded the first Emory-based MDC – The Enterprise for Research and Advocacy to Stop and Eradicate HIV (ERASE HIV).  Likewise, Emory CFAR Co-Director, Ann Chahroudi and colleagues at Johns Hopkins launched the first pediatric research-focused MDC – the Pediatric Adolescent Virus Elimination (PAVE) Collaboratory.  Emory CFAR Systems Immunology Core Associate Director, Rafick Pierre Sékaly, PhD will co-lead the new Sanford Burnham Prebys-based Reversing Immune Dysfunction (RID) for HIV-1 Eradication.  Silvestri also co-leads the UNC-Chapel Hill-based Collaboratory of AIDS Researchers for Eradication (CARE) MDC which was first funded in 2011.  Learn more about these four MDCs here and here.

Last year, we announced the first HIV-focused NIH T32 post-doctoral training program at Emory – the Emory Training Program in HIV Translational Research to End the Epidemic.  This exciting new initiative is led by Emory CFAR Co-Directors, Ann Chahroudi and Colleen Kelley and CFAR Prevention & Implementation Sciences Core Co-Director, Patrick Sullivan, DVM, PhD.  Trainees will choose from one of three research tracks (basic, clinical, or implementation science), gaining expertise in cross-cutting areas of science and translation to the Ending the HIV Epidemic Initiative.  Learn more about the program here, and be on the lookout for an announcement for the next application cycle!

FACILITATED COVID-19 RESEARCH AT EMORY
Lastly, we were honored to provide key CFAR services and support to Emory investigators who are leading the way in the response to COVID-19.  As of July 2021, Emory investigators published 1,037 COVID-related research papers with 24 citing the CFAR grant including studies that describe the impact of COVID-19 among people living with or at risk for HIV. Emory CFAR Members leveraged our infrastructure and Cores to lead the response to this public health emergency, garnering >$88M in federal grants (~20% of Emory’s FY20 NIH funding).

Thank you all for your support over the last year!  We look forward to working together in 2022 to contribute to ending the HIV epidemic by accelerating the highest caliber translational research — fostering team science, equity, and multidirectional stakeholder engagement.  

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