September CFAR Seminar: Sharon Hillier, PhD
Developing Options to Improve Choices in HIV Prevention
Presenter: Sharon Hillier, PhD
Richard Sweet Professor of Reproductive Infectious Disease,
Vice-Chair for Faculty Affairs,
Professor, Departments of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences and Microbiology and Molecular Genetics,
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Director of Reproductive Infectious Disease Research,
UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital
Dr. Hillier is an internationally recognized microbiologist whose work has influenced a nascent field of research in which women’s health and HIV prevention concerns intersect. She is principal investigator of the University of Pittsburgh-based Microbicide Trials Network (MTN), an HIV/AIDS clinical trials network established in 2006 by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). At the MTN, Dr. Hillier leads an international team of investigators and community and industry partners at more than 25 clinical research sites on four continents, directing an ambitious research agenda imposed by the urgency of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. MTN’s broad range of clinical trials includes studies considered among the most critically important for advancing the field of HIV prevention.
In her laboratory, Dr. Hillier’s research has focused on understanding both the preventive and causative roles that certain microorganisms in the vagina have with respect to genital tract infections, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, and pre-term birth; and on the evaluation of vaginal microbicides for prevention of STIs in women. In addition to her role as principal investigator for the MTN, Dr. Hillier is principal investigator of an NIH-funded program project grant looking at alternative formulations for microbicides, and she is an investigator of on a study describing novel bacteria associated with pelvic inflammatory disease. In addition, Dr. Hillier is co-investigator of a study funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation examining whether the use of different hormonal contraceptive methods alter immune cells in the genital tract, making them more susceptible to HIV infection.
A multilevel intervention to increase PrEP use among young women at risk of intimate partner violence in Kenya: Results from a pilot cluster-randomized controlled trialPresenter: Sarah Roberts, PhD, MPH
Sarah Roberts is a Research Epidemiologist in the Women’s Global Health Imperative (WGHI) group at RTI International. Her research focuses on behavioral, social, and structural factors that increase the risk of HIV and STIs for women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa—particularly the role of gender inequality, male engagement, and intimate partner violence—and in the design and evaluation of interventions to increase their use of biomedical HIV prevention and treatment strategies. From 2005 to 2012, Dr. Roberts was based in Lusaka, Zambia, where she managed multiple clinical trials and observational studies, primarily focused on biomedical HIV prevention strategies such as PrEP, microbicides, and vaccines. She earned her PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Washington in 2016, with dissertation research focused on gender-based violence and HIV risk among women who sell sex and HIV-serodiscordant couples in Kenya and Uganda. At RTI, Dr. Roberts is the Principal Investigator on two studies that seek to increase PrEP uptake and adherence among AGYW by addressing barriers related to stigma and gender-based violence, and a co-investigator for three additional protocols on HIV prevention and treatment among African AGYW. Her previous research experience also includes mathematical modeling of antiretroviral therapy roll-out, clinical studies of TB diagnosis among people living with HIV, and malaria case-finding in rural areas.