Research Link

A News Service of The AIDS Institute for
Florida HIV/AIDS Researchers  

In This Issue
Coordinator's Message
What is FCHAR?
Executive Committee
Sub/AdHoc Committees
Inside the Next Issue
Newsletter Feedback
Support Our Work
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April 2012
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Welcome to Research Link - your quarterly newsletter for HIV/AIDS research in Florida. We encourage you to read further and learn more about The AIDS Institute's Florida Consortium for HIV/AIDS Research (FCHAR).
Message from the Coordinator
The AIDS Institute's Florida Consortium for HIV/AIDS Research (FCHAR) was created to bring more HIV research resources to Florida and advance the body of knowledge about all aspects of HIV prevention, care and treatment.  The focus is on promoting and arranging inter-institutional collaboration on HIV research, including behavioral/epidemiologic studies, clinical trials and studies of basic science, virology and vaccine development.  FCHAR researchers represent 7 universities, the Florida Department of Health and 11 other research entities across the state, including those from the private sector.  Members account for more than 400 recent and ongoing HIV/AIDS research studies, as compiled in the group's Florida HIV/AIDS Research Inventory.
Read entire article by clicking here
What is FCHAR?
The Consortium will lead research efforts in Florida in the prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS, resulting in decreased incidence, morbidity, and mortality.

To design and conduct studies that will translate to the development of highly effective, wide-scale HIV prevention and treatment interventions; and to make significant gains leading the nation in finding microbicides, a vaccine, and a cure for HIV.

Cooperation:  Find common HIV research interest areas and network to bring new resources/studies to Florida
Share and inventory HIV clinical trials, prevention studies, and basic science research to develop a central source for research study compilation within Florida
Educate clinicians, HIV support teams, and consumers to promote appropriate referral and entry of patients into clinical trials
Collaborate:  Partner on proposed and future unique studies that address primary and secondary HIV prevention, improve patient outcomes, and advance an understanding of microbicides, a cure, and a vaccine
Resolve challenges and discuss solutions to recruitment of participants for prevention studies, behavioral studies, and clinical trials; address challenges in collecting biologic specimens for virologic and other basic science studies
Identify active or future protocols accessible to our patients for the prevention and treatment of HIV infection.

For more information, please visit us at:, or contact Spencer Lieb, M.P.H., HIV/AIDS Research Coordinator at, 850-329-7021.
Executive Advisory Committee
Roles and Functions of the Executive Advisory Committee
Executive Advisory Committee (EAC) members are responsible for reviewing and prioritizing recommendations from the four working committees, assessing progress toward meeting objectives, and reconsidering and revising the FCHAR goals, periodically and as needed. Revised goals will be put to a vote by the general FCHAR membership.  Goals and objectives are assigned target completion dates by the EAC.  The EAC provides support and guidance to the HIV/AIDS Research Coordinator. It holds one-hour teleconferences quarterly and as needed.

Voting Members
Jeffrey Beal, M.D. - Chairperson, FDOH Bureau of HIV/AIDS 
Neil Abell, Ph.D., Florida State University
Alexander Cole, Ph.D.
, University of Central Florida
Isa Fernandez, Ph.D.
, Nova Southeastern University
Margaret Fischl, M.D.
, F.A.C.P., University of Miami
Robert Malow, Ph.D.
, Florida International University
Mobeen Rathore, M.D., University of Florida - Jacksonville
Rafick Pierre Sekaly, Ph.D., Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute
John Sleasman, M.D., University of South Florida 
Yuri Velazquez, HIV Community Advocate

Non-Voting Members
Berry Bennett, M.P.H., FDOH Bureau of Laboratory Services
Robert Cook, M.D., M.P.H., University of FL - Dept. of Epidemiology
Becky Grigg, Ph.D.
, FDOH Bureau of HIV/AIDS - Surveillance
Marlene LaLota, M.P.H., FDOH Bureau of HIV/AIDS - Prevention
Spencer Lieb, M.P.H., Research Coordinator - The AIDS Institute
Michael Ruppal
, Executive Director - The AIDS Institute
Subcommittees and Ad Hoc Committees
The Consortium relies on four subcommittees to examine issues and make recommendations to the Coordinator and the Executive Advisory Committee.

I. Regional Networks Subcommittee: Establish regional networks to position FCHAR for future funding; seek and obtain funding for research on networks or collaborative projects 
II. Hard-to-Reach Populations Subcommittee: Develop strategies for identifying, accessing, and recruiting hard-to-reach populations needed for all types of research studies; develop strategies to obtain hard-to-find biologic specimens for virologic study   
III. Therapeutics and Basic Science Research Subcommittee: Propose study protocols focused on answering research questions utilizing FDA approved antiretroviral therapy, thus providing an alternative to ADAP waiting-list enrollment that would also benefit science; provide opportunities to share challenges and solutions to basic science problems 
IV. Research Education Subcommittee: Formulate a statewide strategic plan for educating clinicians, case managers, and patients of research options 

Ad Hoc Committees 
Several ad hoc committees are formed as needed to address special issues.  Recently, these have included an ad hoc committee to devise ways to streamline the institutional review board (IRB) and consent form processes when multiple research organizations are involved with a study protocol.  A second ad hoc committee is developing a protocol for a specific grant opportunity from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), while a third is working on an NIH researcher-initiated grant.  
Inside the Next Issue  
July 2012 - A selection of FCHAR members' recent and ongoing HIV/AIDS research studies, in brief.
Newsletter Feedback 
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Michael Ruppal's Signature
Michael Ruppal, Executive Director
The AIDS Institute