amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

NIH Awards Research Training Grant to TREAT Asia–Columbia University Collaboration

Five-year award will support research training on HIV, mental health, and implementation science 

The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a 5-year, $1.4 million grant to TREAT Asia and Columbia University to establish an innovative platform for integrating HIV, mental health, and implementation science research in the Asia-Pacific region.

The CHIMERA program (Capacity development for HIV and mental health research in Asia) will address the dual and interlinked burdens of HIV and mental health. Co-led by Principal Investigators Dr. Annette Sohn, amfAR Vice President and Director of TREAT Asia, and Dr. Milton Wainberg, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, the program aims to build a team within the Asia-Pacific with the capacity to lead regional HIV-mental health-implementation science research that will inform public health policy and improve the quality of clinical care for people living with HIV. 

The program is nested within the IeDEA (International epidemiology Databases to Evaluate AIDS) Asia-Pacific regional research network that TREAT Asia directs. CHIMERA will create the opportunity to bring together stellar training faculty from academic centers and public health and development agencies within the region and across the world, and will build on existing NIH-funded mental health research being conducted through IeDEA Asia-Pacific.

“We are very fortunate to have this opportunity to work together and plan how to improve the mental health of those we care for by first having bi-directional capacity training in order to design optimal approaches to implement sustainable efforts,” said Dr. Wainberg, who has led multiple global mental health and implementation science training programs in the U.S. and Africa.

Left to right: Dr. Milton Wainberg, TREAT Asia Director of Research Dr. Jeremy Ross, CHIMERA Associate Director Dr. Claude Mellins of Columbia University, Dr. Annette Sohn, and CHIMERA training faculty Dr. Francine Cournos of Columbia University

CHIMERA is funded by the Fogarty International Center together with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and will be conducted in partnership with TREAT Asia network sites in Cambodia (National Center for HIV/AIDS and Dermatology with the National Mental Health Program, Ministry of Health), Malaysia (University of Malaya Medical Center), the Philippines (Research Institute for Tropical Medicine), and Thailand (Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Centre).

“The Fogarty International Center has successfully contributed to the global HIV research workforce for almost 30 years,” said Fogarty Program Scientist Dr. Geetha Bansal. “Investing in the CHIMERA program is especially exciting for us as this training program will provide a bridge to an existing HIV research network (IeDEA Asia-Pacific) to enable training in data science management and analysis to guide health policy and improve the quality of clinical care.”

CHIMERA Malaysia training mentor Dr. Reena Rajasuriar (center) with training fellows Dr. Pui Li Wong (left) and Ms. Meng Li Chong (right).

“The Division of AIDS Research at NIMH is pleased to partner with the Fogarty International Center at the NIH in funding the CHIMERA Research Training Program,” said Dr. Pim Brouwers, the Division’s Deputy Director. “Expanding the capacity to research, treat, and assess mental health in people with or at risk for HIV in Cambodia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand is a priority for our Division.  Compromised mental health is both a major comorbidity of and a risk factor for HIV and is often less attended to in low- and middle-income countries. Work such as this will expand our capacity to address these important issues.”

  Dr. Jeremy Ross (far left) and Dr. Annette Sohn (center) with members of the CHIMERA Cambodia mentor team: Dr. Chhit Sophal (left of Dr. Sohn) and Dr. Ly Penh Sun (right of Dr. Sohn)