Penn Center for AIDS Research

Scientific Working Groups


To maximize the impact of the Penn Center for AIDS Research in advancing innovative research addressing key needs in HIV/AIDS, the Penn CFAR has created three Scientific Working Groups (SWGs) that build on current strengths combined with clear yet-untapped opportunities for synergy, collaboration, and novel multidisciplinary approaches. By taking a proactive leadership role to galvanize and coordinate research in these areas, the SWGs will:

  1. create interdisciplinary programs through new collaborations leading to synergy and novel approaches to key issues;
  2. engage established investigators in related fields who have not previously worked on HIV/AIDS, by providing both an outreach mechanism and a working group structure in which they can collaborate to pursue studies;
  3. establish mentoring relationships for junior investigators to both maximize the opportunity for their success as well as harness the creativity of new perspectives;
  4. identify critical support needed from CFAR Cores that will inform and guide new service development, help leverage resources directed at these needs, and utilize Core resources.

For the coming cycle, the Penn CFAR SWGs will target the following areas:

  • HIV Reservoirs and Tissue Immunology is focused on the virology and immunology of HIV and SIV reservoirs within tissue sites, including lymphoid organs, gut, and efferent lymph. Understanding reservoirs outside of blood is critical to the cure effort, and Penn has the infrastructure to obtain lymph nodes, lymph, gut tissue, and HIV+ organ donor samples.
  • Technology to Reduce HIV Disparities is focused on examining how the social determinants of health (e.g., race, sexuality, class, gender) shape structural factors that heighten the HIV vulnerability of certain socially disadvantaged populations in the United States (e.g., youth, racial/ethnic groups, sexual and/or gender minorities, socially disenfranchised, and/or reside in underserved communities), which are more likely to experience challenges throughout the continuum of HIV care.

The Penn SWGs will rely heavily on CFAR Basic and Clinical Cores for support, as well as the Developmental Core to prioritize SWG initiatives for Pilot funding (in concert with the Administrative Core and Executive Committee oversight) and collaborative mentoring of new investigators. The SWGs are designed to be forward-looking and dynamic, and as SWG goals are met the SWGs will evolve to enable new areas of strategic priority and opportunity to be emphasized.

SWG: HIV Reservoirs and Tissue Immunology
Co-Director: Co-Director:
Michael R. Betts, PhD
Ian Frank, MD
SWG: Technology to Reduce HIV Disparities
Co-Director: Co-Director:
Jose Bauermeister, PhD, MPH
Graciela Gonzalez Hernandez, MD, PhD

Raina Merchant, MD