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Drs. Nabila El-Bassel and Elwin Wu Awarded a $1.2M, Five-Year Grant Renewal from NIMH for their Innovative HIV Intervention Science Training Program for Underrepresented New Investigators


August 6, 2012

Dr. Nabila El-Bassel

New York, NY—Dr. Nabila El-Bassel, Professor at the Columbia School of Social Work (CUSSW), Director of the Social Intervention Group (SIG), and Dr. Elwin Wu, Associate Professor at the CUSSW, Associate Director of SIG, have received a five-year grant renewal from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to continue the HIV Intervention Science Training Program for Underrepresented New Investigators (HISTP). The grant will be used to enhance a research training infrastructure and program of activities aimed at facilitating the development of promising new scientists from underrepresented groups who are conducting HIV-related dissemination and implementation research.

HISTP, supported by a network of leading HIV scientific advisors and mentors across the country, will directly train and provide an innovative mentorship program to a total of sixteen training Fellows who will be recruited over the next four years. Fellows will also receive pilot funding and access to a multitude of resources and expert consultation. Another unique aspect is the use of technology, including distance mentoring via a web-based interface. Therefore, a nationwide recruitment effort will be implemented, as trainees are able to participate in the program from their respective institutions.

“We are very excited to have HISTP at CUSSW, where we have built a rich infrastructure to support innovative training programs,” says Dr. El-Bassel. “A number of faculty have committed to be mentors and to play other leadership roles in the program. The mission of this training program fits well with Columbia University’s mission on diversity.”

There is an urgent need to increase and improve dissemination and implementation research to ensure that effective HIV prevention interventions are delivered to the communities that need them. Thus, a new generation of HIV researchers needs to be trained to conduct such research to make a major impact in reducing new HIV infections, particularly among communities of color. Racial and ethnic minority populations are disproportionately represented amongst those living with HIV/AIDS, yet REM scientists trained as HIV/AIDS researchers are vastly underrepresented.

“Our dynamic HIV Intervention Science Training Program is designed to train the next generation of scholars in how to conduct HIV implementation research, which is critically needed in the field of HIV,” explains Dr. El-Bassel. “Participating in HISTP will bring these young HIV scientists ‘up to the next level’ by improving research skills as well as providing networking opportunities with each other and with foremost scholars in other disciplines. The HISTP will significantly increase the number of NIH-funded HIV researchers from underserved populations.”

About the Social Intervention Group (
SIG is a multidisciplinary research center at the Columbia University School of Social Work that works to develop and test effective prevention and intervention models and disseminate them to local, national, and international communities. SIG’s research addresses the co-occurring problems of HIV, drug abuse, intimate partner violence, and trauma.

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