SHARC Team Meeting Update (9/5/2013)

Mark Hart Uncategorized

The SHARC Research Team meeting was designed to promote collaboration among HIV and alcohol researchers at the University of Florida campus and at other Universities.  This meeting looks at the big picture and its challenge is to address the health needs of people living with HIV.   A group that has emerged from within SHARC is the Neurocognitive Working Group.  This group will study neurocognitive conditions within people living with HIV (PLHIV).  Other areas of focus within SHARC will be health services research, methods, and HIV-related clinical trials.

Last week’s research team meeting focused on reviewing various projects associated with SHARC.  Robert Cook, M.D., M.P.H., Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Director of SHARC, introduced his newest study, the Florida Cohort Study.  The purpose of the Florida Cohort will be to gather data from PLHIV throughout Florida and combine it with data from the Florida Department of Health to create a comprehensive assessment of unmet needs and areas around Florida of particular need.  Cook also gave a brief update on the WHAT-IF Clinical study taking place in Miami.  Additional sites will be added to this study including Tampa and possibly Orlando.

Ronald Cohen, M.D., Professor and Director of the Cognitive Aging and Memory Program at the Institute of Aging, gave an overview of his R01 projects that related to HIV, aging and alcohol.

Jeff Harman, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Health Services Research, Management and Policy, gave an update of his Comparative Effectiveness Research.

By Michele Rollen-Hanson

Message from the Director

Michele Rollen-Hanson Uncategorized

This week the Southern HIV & Alcohol Research Consortium (SHARC) recruited the first participant in the Florida Cohort Project.  The Florida Cohort Project intends to enroll persons with HIV from across the state of Florida from a variety of health care settings.  The goal of the Florida Cohort is to identify factors that influence significant public health and health care outcomes with an emphasis on how alcohol, other drugs and mental health issues can affect HIV outcomes.  The development of this project involved a great number of people from multiple scientific disciplines and community health settings.

The first phase of the Florida Cohort is a pilot study to assess the acceptability of the study questionnaire and to look at different methods of delivering the information such as on paper, iPad, or internet.  We are also asking for feedback on the questionnaire. The next phase will be to enroll people from a variety of settings across the state.

Stay tuned for more updates on the development of the Florida Cohort!

Robert L. Cook, M.D., M.P.H.


Mark Hart Uncategorized

Natalie Kelso started with the Southern HIV and Alcohol Research Consortium in 2012.  With a bachelor degree in psychology from the University of Missouri and a master’s degree in social work from Washington University’s George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Natalie moved to Gainesville last year to work with SHARC, and begin her Ph.D. in Epidemiology as a graduate fellow.  At this point, Natalie is focusing on infectious diseases, mental health, and spatial epidemiology with a special interest in HIV related comorbidities.

Through the many affiliations of SHARC, and its staff, Natalie has primarily worked on the “WHAT IF?” project [Will Having Alcohol Treatment Improve my Functioning?].   This study aims to determine whether an alcohol treatment intervention involving naltrexone can reduce hazardous drinking in HIV-infected women, and whether it can improve antiretroviral medication adherence, reduce disease progression, and reduce risky sexual behavior.  As the project continues with its clinical trial period, Natalie works in monitoring laboratory work related to the study, to clear subjects as healthy enough to participate in the trial.  For now, the “What If?” project is currently working to enroll people for its larger study, centered in Miami, Florida.

In addition to her work with “WHAT IF?,” Natalie has also worked on two other projects, resulting in two recent poster presentations.  Working with Chukwuemeka Okafor M.P.H., Phillip Barkley M.D., and Robert Cook M.D., M.P.H., Natalie recently led a study which examined factors associated with condom use among sexually active college women.  The study concluded that the importance of duel protection of pregnancy and STD needs to be stressed, as those on birth control are less likely to use condoms.  This study also found interesting correlations between the use of condoms and those who were described as marijuana users, suggesting further research should be conducted in this specific area.  Natalie also worked with the same group of researchers, and John Friary M.S., M.P.H., to look at the association between different types of oral sexual behaviors and oral HPV in college women.  This study concluded that traditional oral sexual behavior was not a strong predictor of oral HPV, but that various non-traditional behaviors that increase the risk of self-inoculation are significantly associated with oral HPV.  With these recent studies complete, Natalie is interested in pursuing further research investigating HIV co-morbidities and substance abuse.  Natalie also has begun investigating HIV and cardiovascular issues related to the effects of patients living longer on HIV medications.

Natalie shared that she enjoys the “smaller town feel” of Gainesville, compared to St. Louis and often tries to get out and enjoy nature.  Though she is very busy with her work, and school, she lists playing with her four year old Italian Greyhound as her favorite hobby, one she tries to do every day.

Thanks Natalie for all of your great research contributions and work on SHARC and “WHAT IF?”!

Recent Presentation on “Substance Use in HIV Positive Adoloscents”

Mark Hart Uncategorized

April 26, 2013


The Southern HIV & Alcohol Research Consortium (SHARC) research team met to listen to presenters Julie Williams, Ph.D. and John Friary, MS, M.P.H., Wednesday, April 25.

Williams along with members of her team, Xinrui Zhang and Amanda Lowe, M.S., presented an overview of their clinical trial, “Substance Use in HIV Positive Adolescents.” This trial investigated data on biomarkers related to inflammation and HIV in adolescents with substance use, with the ultimate goal of identifying unique transcriptomic and proteomic profiles related to neurocognitive impairment in HIV positive youth. 

Williams is a postdoctoral associate in the Maureen M. Goodenow Laboratory in the Department of Pathology in the College of Medicine at the University of Florida.  She is researching the role of the psychoactive and immunomodulatory component of marijuana, THC, in HIV infection and inflammation in monocytes and macrophages.  Williams has received two Experimental Pathology Innovative grants.  The first to examine the role of microparticles in HIV infection and the second to examine the consequences of THC exposure and HIV infection on migration of HIV infected monocytes.

Friary, a biostatistician and project manager, gave an update on Dr. Cook’s pilot study, “Pharmacotherapy for Hazardous Drinking in HIV-infected Women: Randomized Trial.”  This trial was conducted in Chicago, IL., Jacksonville, FL. and Washington, D.C.

Alcohol Timeline Follow Back, a technique to improve participants’ recall of their drinking frequencies and amounts, was used to collect 10 months of drinking data on our participants. The changing drinking pattern of this cohort over the course of the study was presented.

Thanks to Dr. Wallet For His Presentation to the SHARC Research Team

Mark Hart Uncategorized

2012-06-26_15-02-10_6343-220x272Mark Wallet, Ph.D., presented his research with macrophages to the Southern HIV & Alcohol Consortium (SHARC) research team Thursday, March 11, 2013. 

Dr. Wallet received his undergraduate degree in biology and medical technology from Clarion University of Pennsylvania in 1998. He moved to Durham, NC where he worked as a medical technologist both at Duke University Medical Center and Durham County Health Department. In 2000, Dr. Wallet entered graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Throughout his doctoral studies with mentor Roland Tisch, Dr. Wallet focused on the role of innate immune cells, particularly dendritic cells, upon development of T cell-mediated type 1 diabetes.

In 2007, Dr. Wallet joined the HIV-1 research group at the University of Florida led by Maureen Goodenow. As a postdoctoral fellow, his work focused on innate immune activation and systemic inflammation in HIV-1-infected individuals.

In 2012 Dr. Wallet attained a position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology Immunology and Laboratory Medicine. His current laboratory interests include understainding molecular interactions of HIV-1 with human macrophages and the role that these interactions play in chronic inflammation experienced by HIV-1-infected individuals.

Curriculum Vitae

Meet the Team

Mark Hart Uncategorized

SHARC Executive Committee, Dr. Robert Cook, Dr. Maria Jose Miguez, Dr. Kendall Bryant, Dr. Babette Brumback and Dr. Seema Desai

SHARC Executive Committee, Dr. Robert Cook, Dr. Maria Jose Miguez, Dr. Kendall Bryant, Dr. Babette Brumback and Dr. Seema Desai

The Southern HIV Alcohol Research Consortium (SHARC) held the first Research Symposium in Gainesville to showcase research on HIV and Alcohol hosted by SHARC Director Robert Cook October 2012.

The symposium presenters discussed alcohol consumption associated with significant behavioral and biological outcomes in persons with HIV infection.  As Florida has the highest rate of newly-diagnosed HIV infections in the U.S.  Its epidemic is characterized by significant racial disparities and high-risk populations including men who have sex with men.  However, few effective strategies exist to help persons with HIV to reduce their drinking.

The symposium prsesenters were:

Kendall J. Bryant, Ph.D., Director, HIV/AIDS Research, NIAAA
Scientific Collaborator, Consortia for HIV/AIDS and Alcohol Research Translation (CHAART)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

William W. Lattimer, Ph.D., M.P.H., Professor and Chair
Department of Clinical and Health Psychology
University of Florida

Jeffrey Harman, Ph.D., Associate Professor and PhD Program Director
Department of Health Services Research, Management and Policy
University of Florida

Ronald Cohen, Ph.D., Professor, Departments of Aging-Geriatric Research, Neurology, & Psychiatry
Director, Center for Cognitive Aging and Memory, University of Florida Institute on Aging


Mark Hart Uncategorized

Alcohol consumption is associated with significant behavioral and biological outcomes in persons with HIV infection.  However, few effective strategies exist to help persons with HIV to reduce their drinking. Moreover, few studies involving alcohol and HIV have been sufficiently powered to make conclusions in women.

Florida has the highest rate of newly-diagnosed HIV infections in the US. Its epidemic is characterized by significant racial disparities and high-risk populations including men who have sex with men.

The Southern HIV Alcohol Research Consortium (SHARC) was formed in 2011 by linking three separate NIAAA-funded research proposals involving HIV and high-risk alcohol consumption, including an existing cohort of over 700 persons with HIV in Miami, Florida.

Potential Impact of SHARC

Mark Hart Uncategorized

  • Maximize overall research productivity related to alcohol and HIV infection.
  • Increase capacity to conduct clinical trials.
  • Enhance multidisciplinary and public health collaborations.
  • Support new researchers and trainees.
  • Implement findings into clinical practice and public health settings and improve health outcomes in persons with HIV and high-risk alcohol consumption.
  • Translate research findings into applied clinical and public health settings, while building collaborations with public health clinics serving persons with HIV in Florida.
  • Transform treatment of harmful drinking in settings providingprimary care for HIV infection, with a range of practical intervention strategies targeting behaviors and biologic endpoints.
  • Focus on alcohol’s potential impact on chronic disease outcomes including cognitive functioning, immune senescence, and quality of life.
  • Evaluate health services and health system factors that may influence the delivery of effective interventions for harmful drinking.