The National Institutes of Health has awarded University of North Carolina’s Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases nearly $25 million over seven years to continue operating its Global HIV Clinical Trials Unit, or CTU. The new funding will support HIV treatment and prevention in adults, children and pregnant women at four research sites — Lilongwe, Malawi; Chapel Hill and Greensboro, North Carolina; and Hanoi, Vietnam.
The NIH has continuously funded the Institute’s HIV research unit since 1987, making it one of the most experienced and successful CTUs in the NIH portfolio. Leading the work are three co-principal investigators— Joseph Eron, MD, chief of UNC’s Division of Infectious Diseases; Mina Hosseinipour, MD, MPH, professor of medicine and scientific director of UNC Project Malawi; and David Wohl, MD, professor of medicine and site leader of Chapel Hill’s CTU. Additional site leaders are Lameck Chinula, MD, Malawi site leader; Cornelius van Dam, MD, Greensboro site leader; and Vivian Go, PhD, Vietnam site leader.
“This new award is exciting and well deserved,” says Myron Cohen, MD, director of the Institute. “It recognizes Dr. Eron’s remarkable leadership and ability to build a great team, from North Carolina to Africa and Vietnam. The funding keeps UNC at the forefront of global research into HIV through 2027 while allowing us to investigate other emerging pathogens that threaten our species.”
Nearly 40 years since it was first identified, the human immunodeficiency virus has stretched across the globe with some 38 million people infected worldwide. Sub-Saharan Africa, the Asia-Pacific region, and the southeastern United States are home to some of the most severely affected populations in the United States and worldwide. Since early 2020, many of UNC’s HIV researchers have also taken on investigations into treatment and prevention of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.
“Our CTUs are located in critical parts of the world where HIV continues to be transmitted,” says Wohl, “and also where we can reach people most impacted by the continuing pandemic. As a result, the CTU is also participating in cutting-edge COVID-19 therapeutics clinical research.”
“The complexity of HIV requires a multidisciplinary approach,” says Eron. “Our CTU includes a broad range of leading investigators whose collective expertise continues to bring us more accessible and effective treatments and closer to an eventual cure.”
“In addition to enabling us to contribute to great advances in HIV treatment and prevention, this grant will allow us to continue our mission to build the next generation of global health researchers at our sites,” says Hosseinipour.
The core award from the NIH is $3.27 million per year for seven years, with additional protocol funding of $2 million in the first year. The Institute’s CTU leadership team includes Susan Pedersen, BS, BSN, clinical director; Tania Hossain Caravella, BA, MPH, regulatory affairs director; Diana Stanley, MSPH, administrative director; Irving Hoffman, PA, MPH, international operations director; and site coordinators Becky Straub, BSN, RN, MPH (Chapel Hill); Thoko Makuhunga, MPH (Malawi); Kim Epperson, RN, BSN (Greensboro); and Tran Viet Ha, MD, MSc (Vietnam).