HIV, iRace, Public Health, Research

CTBScience Investigators to lead multi-site collaboration to study HIV and Alcohol Use among Florida’s Young Adult Population with $6.5 million NIH grant

By: Sara Green, MSW
Congratulations to Dr. Naar and her esteemed colleagues on their recently awarded P01 Grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), for their project titled "Innovations in translational behavioral science to improve self-management of alcohol and HIV in adolescents and emerging adults".
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Sylvie Naar, PhD is the Lead Principal Investigator of the SHARE Program, and will oversee the study in collaboration with Dr. Karen MacDonnell at Wayne State University. 
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Nicole Ennis, PhD is the FSU Lead Investigator
of the SHARE Program's Community Engagement Core, and will co-lead the core's efforts with Dr. 
Isa Fernandez of Nova Southeastern University. 
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Scott Pickett, PhD is the FSU Lead Investigator of the DEFINE Study, one of three research projects of the SHARE Program. Dr. Pickett will co-lead this project with Dr. Sharon Nichols from the University of California, San Diego. 
The five-year grant, awarded by NIH’s National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, will fund research tailored to the age group, which relies on technology for communication and engages in different risk behaviors than the overall population. Research participants will be recruited predominantly through social media. Data collection — via a wrist sensor — will be securely transmitted and captured through links participants receive, and interventions will take place through videoconferencing. 
“The entire center is virtual,” said Naar, who wrote the grant proposal during the onset of the pandemic. “We specifically planned this to be kind of pandemic-resilient.”
An added benefit to being virtual is the ability to include participants from rural areas; most research has been done in cities, Naar said. Going statewide aligns with the College of Medicine’s mission, especially regarding the underserved in rural areas. In addition, Florida Department of Health statistics show 75 percent of youth living with HIV are ethnic minorities, some of whom are transgender. 
“We really got this because there are not a lot of people around the country focused on young people,” Naar said. “We were the only applicant that focused on young people. That’s something NIH really wants to support.”
The collaborative effort will include researchers from the University of Florida, the University of Central Florida, Nova Southeastern University, Wayne State University, the University of Michigan, and the University of California at San Diego. The research will be broken into three projects: defining new intervention strategies, engaging youth, and sustaining behavioral change through interventions.
UF’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute, FSU’s partner in one of two Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) in the state, will lead the wireless wrist sensor project, which will monitor the use and levels of alcohol intake of the participants. In addition, it will develop online surveys, and both manage and analyze data. The CTSA is supported in part by the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences under award number UL1TR001427.
The CTBS Community Youth Advisory Board, which Naar developed upon her arrival at FSU in 2018, will help recruit participants through social media and dating apps. Since its creation, the board has organized itself as a nonprofit, which provides advisory services to FSU and outreach to youth across the state independently.
“Recruiting youth living with HIV [to participate] is not easy,” Naar said. “(Board members) can say, ‘OK, Florida State’s Dr. Naar is someone you can trust, you should consider enrolling in these studies.’ That makes a big difference. That’s a very different model of community engagement that we’re rolling out with this grant.”
In line with Dr. Naar's existing Scale It Up - Florida (SIU-FL)program, the SHARE Program will contribute to SIU-FL's youth-focused, community-based research consortium that is focused on promoting health equity among underserved youth populations in Florida through community-driven research, discovery, and innovation. SIU-FL targets HIV and other sexual health issues in adolescents and emerging adults (age 13-29) residing in Florida.