Penn Center for AIDS Research

Core Services: Prevention Science and Community Engagement Core

  • Provide meaningful and accessible research application services: Core devotes significant effort to identifying and providing support to new investigators, established investigators transitioning to AIDS research, and established AIDS investigators as they conceptualize and prepare research applications. Priority is given to new and transitioning investigators, particularly those from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups and women. As investigator-initiated research has become more commonly focused on HIV-positive individuals, these services are increasingly delivered in collaboration with the Clinical Core.
  • Facilitate the recruitment and retention of community and clinic based populations: Many important behavioral, basic science and clinical questions regarding HIV infection and treatment require access to individuals with unique characteristics. The BSS Core facilitates the recruitment of "hard to find" participants and the collection of specimens from individuals with highly valued "bio-behavioral" characteristics. Core now manages a fleet of vehicles that facilitate access to community based populations and support recruitment and retention of research participants. On-campus facilities include examination rooms and interview space that have been integral to the ability of the Core to support funded HIV research.


  • An important aspect of the targeted population service is access to BSS Core managed vehicles: the Mobile Clinical Trials Unit (MCTU) and a Ford Taurus for participant transport and participant retention efforts. The demand for this service is quite strong. Requests for this service should be made well in advance. The MCTU is a medical vehicle built on a heavy-duty truck frame that contains an expandable waiting area and two private examination rooms. It has also has a sink area and a bathroom and is equipped with two refrigerators for specimen and medication storage. It is approved as an HIV testing site by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the exam rooms provide comfortable and private space for counseling, interviews, and data and specimen collections. Our vehicles are available to investigators who need research space in the community or transportation to aid in the recruitment and retention of hard-to-reach populations. 
  • Provide mentoring, education, training and access to cutting edge research tools: Core serves as an resource to BSS investigators and CFAR members, and emerging investigators including students and fellows, through the coordination of speakers and seminars, focused trainings, and mentoring activities. The Core continues to serve as a host and coordinating unit for both domestic and international fellows and trainees. The Core maintains a library of research tools including quantitative and qualitative analytic software and programming to enhance the design and utilization of web based data management tools. 
  • Support the integration of the Penn CFAR into the Philadelphia community: The Core provides programmatic and budgetary support to the Penn CFAR Community Advisory Board in its efforts to expand and sustain its highly visible and active agenda of community education and research on local, regional, and national levels. The Core also provides a conduit linking Penn HIV investigators to Philadelphia communities, the Department of Public Health's AIDS Activities Coordinating Office, and HIV prevention and treatment providers.

To request BSS Core Services, please utilize the PSCE Core Service Request Form.

Core Service Contact:
Amy Onorato

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