Director's Update: October 2020

October 21, 2020
CFAR Director's Update

Deadlines today for IAB member-at-large nominations and Mentoring Program Co-Director focused on ESIs of racial/ethnic diversity.

Dear CFAR Community,



I wanted to provide an update on the CFAR since assuming Directorship on July 1, 2019. It has been wonderful working with all of you and we have a number of exciting updates to share.


To launch our new leadership agenda, we first spent time with many of you throughout July, August and September by sitting down for one-on-one meetings with key HIV research leaders across UCSF and its affiliates to hear your opinions on how you would like things re-configured in the CFAR. Many of the suggestions raised in these one-on-one meetings led to the initiatives below that we have launched since July.


I have asked Drs. Peter Hunt and Mallory Johnson to join me as leads of the Basic/Translational and Social/Behavioral agendas of the UCSF-Gladstone CFAR, respectively. Lauren Sterling has become Associate Director of the UCSF CFAR. Prior to the re-competition in August 2021, we will likely appoint/search a head of the Clinical Research agenda for the CFAR as we work to redefine our cores and working groups in light of new movements at the NIH, including the DHHS supported End the HIV Epidemic initiative.

Internal Advisory Board

As announced last week, we have re-configured the UCSF CFAR Internal Advisory Board to include major leaders in HIV programs, affiliates, or Divisions/Departments across UCSF. Our standing members are Drs. Susan Buchbinder (SFDPH), Carol Dawson-Rose (UCSF School of Nursing), Joel Ernst (Chief, DEM), Diane Havlir (Chief, Division of HIV, ID and Global Medicine), Marguerita Lightfoot (Director, CAPS), Melanie Ott (Gladstone), Satish Pillai (Vitalant), and Steve Yukl (VA/NCIRE). Each IAB member has appointed a delegate as IAB meetings will be held in person from now on and only when strategic advice needed.

To provide opportunities for more junior leaders to join our IAB, we have also announced that we will have Members-at-Large of the UCSF CFAR IAB, and are accepting applications for these members. Please note that applications are due today.

New CFAR Seminar Series

As announced previously, we have launched a new CFAR seminar series that will be held monthly in Carr Auditorium on usually the first Wednesday of each month. We are thrilled that Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of NIAID at NIH, will be giving our first CFAR seminar on December 4, 2019 in honor of World AIDS Day. Other external CFAR seminar speakers for 2020 include Dr. Steve Shoptaw (January 15), Dr. Bob Silicano (February 1), Dr. Beatrice Hahn (May 6), Dr. Judy Currier (June 5), and Dr. Sharon Hillier (September 5). Stay tuned for these announcements and how to participate. Each external speaker will have lunch with early stage investigators at UCSF interested in their topic and interested research groups will be invited to meet with each external speaker individually. Early stage investigators will also be a part of each CFAR Seminar Series program (including with Dr. Fauci) by giving short talks.

Expansion of clinical core to include prevention

We will be sending out a more detailed announcement regarding this new initiative, but, in light of the End of the HIV Epidemic (stressing both treatment and prevention), the UCSF CFAR clinical core will now be supporting a diverse cohort of participants on PrEP (funded also partially through a Department of Medicine cohort grant). This PrEP cohort will be based at the San Francisco Department of Public Health under the leadership of Drs. Susan Buchbinder and Hyman Scott and the treatment and prevention cores will be closely linked in terms of specimen collection and common case report forms. Please stay tuned for more detail on this new initiative and let Joseph Watabe know if you would like to get involved.

Focus on diversity in our clinical core initiatives

In light of increasing inequities across the U.S. and here in the Bay Area on those who become newly infected with HIV and have poorer outcomes with HIV, we are starting a revamped focus in the UCSF CFAR to expand the racial/ethnic diversity of the SCOPTIONS treatment cohort and the newly-launched PrEP cohort. Drs. Steve Deeks, Jeff Martin, Susan Buchbinder and Hyman Scott are fully committed to this diversity initiative. To help champion this important initiative, we are recruiting for a CFAR Associate Director of Equity to help us and please note that applications are due today.

Supporting early stage investigators of racial/ethnic diversity at UCSF and its CFAR affiliates

One major new campaign of this Directorship is to help support early stage investigators of racial/ethnic diversity at UCSF and its CFAR affiliates. After a focus group lunch between myself and the ESIs of racial/ethnic diversity at UCSF to hear ideas, we plan to have a designated mentoring program for this group, designated funding opportunities, designated lunches with the CFAR Director quarterly, writing coaches when desired, and other supportive programming. Towards, this end, we are recruiting for a CFAR Mentoring Program Co-Director focused on ESIs of racial/ethnic diversity. Please note that applications are due today.

Announcing new CFAR-funded “Boost” or mini-grant funding

We will be announcing this new program officially in November, but the objective of the CFAR HIV Research Boost Awards are to remove obstacles to HIV research productivity by providing timely crucial resources that cannot easily obtained through other funding mechanisms. HIV researchers across the CFAR (with a focus on early stage investigators) will be able to apply for small “boost” awards (ranging from $50 to $5000 requests) for a variety of allowed research purposes, including poster printing, obtaining supplemental data for a publication, gathering needed data for a resubmission, gathering of new data for a new application, salary/benefits for a temporary research associate, consultant or biostatistical consulting costs, writing coaches, allowable equipment, supplies or software, study participant incentives or other supplies needed for recruitment/retention, travel support when allowable, core services, training course fees, etc. Please stay tuned for more details on this and how to apply (it will be easy to apply!) in November.

It has been a great privilege to serve as the UCSF-Gladstone CFAR Director with you over the past quarter and to work closely with Lauren Sterling, Peter Hunt and Mallory Johnson. As always, please reach out to us directly if you have any comments, suggestions or ideas for the CFAR – this is a grant for all of you!


Monica Gandhi, CFAR Director, on behalf of

Peter Hunt, CFAR Co-Director (Basic/Translational)
Mallory Johnson, CFAR Co-Director (Social/Behavioral)
Lauren Sterling, CFAR Associate Director