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 two 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.

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.

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

Single Cell HIV Reservoirs  (SCHR)

Focus 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.

Michael R. Betts, PhD

Ian Frank, MD

Laura Vella, MD, PhD

Implementation Science in Philadelphia for Ending the HIV Epidemic REgionally (ISPHERE)

To achieve aspirational goals to end the HIV epidemic, evidence-based practices across the HIV care continuum must be effectively implemented. Maximizing the impact of evidence-based practices will require building community-academic partnerships to equitably implement evidence-based practices. This includes leveraging the expertise and resources of HIV community leaders, service agencies, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, clinicians, and scientific experts to ensure that implementation efforts attend to local community needs. ISPHERE will support the development of community-academic partnerships to create capacity for collaboration on work at the intersection of HIV prevention, HIV treatment, and intervention and implementation science throughout Philadelphia County in the service of ending the HIV epidemic collaboratively and equitably. ISPHERE is co-directed by Drs. Rinad Beidas, Florence Momplaisir, and Steven Meanley.

Executive Directors

Dr. Florence Momplaisir, MD, MSHP, FACP

Dr. Steven Meanley, MPH, PhD

Mr. Javontae Williams, MPH

Mr. Keith Carter