amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

2016 amfAR LGBT HIV Scholars Program Announcement

University of Pittsburgh announces 2016 amfAR HIV Scholars Program for Gay Men, Other MSM, and Transgender Individuals

APPLICATIONS DUE 17 SEPTEMBER 2015 – 5:00 P.M. EDT

amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research and the Center for LGBT Health Research at the Graduate School of Public Health (“Pitt Public Health”) at the University of Pittsburgh are announcing the continuation of the amfAR HIV Scholars Program: a training program for junior investigators from low- and middle-income countries who are interested in conducting HIV research among gay men, other men who have sex with men (MSM), and/or transgender individuals (collectively, GMT). 

Four scholars from low- and middle-income countries will be accepted into the program for 2016. The program aims to build indigenous capacity to research GMT individuals’ health in low- and middle-income countries by training young investigators to conduct ground-breaking research on HIV among GMT individuals in resource-limited settings. The program also seeks to support emerging GMT leaders who will help define effective responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic among GMT populations in their home countries. The training program is being conducted in collaboration with an existing training program in LGBT health research at the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh.

Eligibility to Apply
Junior investigators from low- and middle-income countries in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, or Oceania committed to studying HIV prevention and care needs among GMT individuals in their home countries are invited to apply to this program. Applicants must be fluent in English and able to read and write English at a high academic level.

Core Training Program
The training program includes three graduate-level classes to be taken in Pittsburgh, PA, USA, from January through May 2016, which is equivalent to a full-time graduate course load. The first of these classes is an overview of LGBT health research, the second is a research methods class, and the third is an advanced research methods class that focuses on research proposal writing. As part of these classes, scholars will develop a research question and write a short proposal (10–15 pages) that will be submitted to amfAR for peer review and possible funding at a pilot project level. During their time in Pittsburgh, participating scholars will also:

  • Complete on-line courses in the ethical conduct of research;
  • Complete a draft questionnaire for their proposed research study;
  • Create a PowerPoint presentation to be delivered to amfAR staff during a visit to amfAR’s office in New York; and
  • Develop a draft IRB application

Scholars will also attend two additional research methods seminars each week: one that focuses on HIV/LGBT health research being conducted by doctoral and post-doctoral students and professors at the Center for LGBT Health Research, and another that focuses specifically on the research being designed by the scholars themselves. Additional events sponsored by the Graduate School of Public Health and the Center for LGBT Health Research are also open to the scholars.

Funding and Support
Expenses covered by the program will include round-trip travel between the scholars’ home countries and Pittsburgh, PA, USA, visa fees, housing, a modest stipend to support the scholars during their time in Pittsburgh, and training-related costs. Scholars should plan to bring their own laptop computers to Pittsburgh to support their training.

Research proposals will be submitted to amfAR at the conclusion of the training program in the hope that each scholar will receive a pilot research grant to implement his or her proposed study. Please note that this funding is not guaranteed. If research proposals are selected for funding by amfAR, scholars will begin work on their projects after returning to their home countries.

The primary goal of the program is to increase the number of investigators in low- and middle-income countries who are able to conduct research among GMT individuals, advocate for their health needs, and, as a result, improve both HIV services and care for GMT individuals in these settings. It is also hoped that the training program will function to help advance the participating scholars’ careers and future training prospects and increase the amount of research being conducted among GMT individuals in low and middle income countries.

Application Instructions
The procedures for applying to the program are simple. Only three documents are needed:

  • A letter of intent (3 page limit) that includes a short work history of the applicant and explains why s/he is interested in studying HIV prevention and care needs among GMT individuals. The letter of intent should relate the applicant’s research and/or training experience relevant to their research interests, and indicate the applicant’s capacity to design and run a research project.
  • A resume or CV that lists the applicant’s training and job history.
  • A short outline (1–2 pages) of the research topic that the applicant would like to develop into a grant application during their time at the University of Pittsburgh. This outline should include a clear research question (or questions) and indicate the feasibility of conducting this research in the proposed setting and with the proposed population.

Applications that are designed to focus on issues relevant to the HIV treatment cascade (i.e., innovative ways to identify unknown HIV seropositives; help patients who have been diagnosed as HIV positive access medical care, stay in treatment, and improve treatment adherence; and reconnect HIV-positive patients who have dropped out of medical care) are especially encouraged.

The due date for applications is 17 September 2015 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. We plan to identify the four finalists for the training program by 1 November 2015, at the latest, and scholars should plan to arrive in Pittsburgh by 5 January 2016. Interested applicants should submit the three application documents via email to Dr. Ron Stall at rstall@pitt.edu. If you have any questions or comments regarding this announcement, please send them to Dr. Stall at the same email address.