OHTN-funded researchers in final round of CIHR Team Grant competition

Photo: JD Hancock

Four HIV research teams—each led by a scholar actively supported by the OHTN — have made it to the final round of a CIHR (Canadian Institutes for Health Research) Team Grant competition focused on boys’ and men’s health:

  • The team led by Dr. Josephine Wong (CIHR/OHTN new investigator) – co-led by Dr. Winston Husbands (OHTN Community Scholar) – will identify the barriers that self-identified heterosexual African, Caribbean and Black (ACB) men face in accessing HIV programs and services (which are often not designed with their needs in mind) and promote greater engagement of ACB men in community HIV responses.
  • Dr. Trevor Hart (OHTN Applied Research Chair in Gay Men’s Health) and his team plan to identify which HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) prevention programs gay men and other men who have sex with men are using, as well as the extent to which these programs are associated with reduced rates of HIV and other STIs in Canada’s biggest cities.
  • The team led by Dr. David Brennan (OHTN Applied Research Chair in Gay Men’s Health) plans to look at how to re-invigorate HIV prevention and health services and ensure they keep pace with the ways in which social messages, laws, HIV treatment options and ideas of community have changed for gay men over the past 30 years.
  • Dr. Irving Salit (OHTN-funded research) and his team plan to explore how best to deliver anal cancer screening, treatment and vaccination programs for gay men and other men who have sex with men, and to look at the role of human papillomavirus (HPV) – the virus that causes anal cancer – in HIV transmission.

Many other OHTN-funded researchers are also members of one or more of these teams, including Dr. Ann Burchell, Dr. Darrell Tan, Dr. Barry Adam, and Dr. Sandra Gardner.

OHTN Invests Strategically with CIHR in Boys’ and Men’s Health

“The fact that these teams were invited to submit proposals shows that the OHTN’s investments in people are paying off,” said Sean B. Rourke, OHTN Scientific and Executive Director. “Our Impact-Focused Research Program – which focuses on nurturing ‘champions’ and supporting population-specific research is, in fact, having an impact. Our Applied Chairs and Scholars are now leading broader, national research initiatives.”

While long-time OHTN-funded researchers such as Dr. Irving Salit are well-known, the CIHR grants are a sign that emerging OHTN-funded researchers — such as Dr. Josephine Wong, Dr. Trevor Hart and Dr. David Brennan — are ready to assume national leadership roles and attract funding at the federal level. The OHTN-funded researchers leading these teams worked collaboratively to develop their proposals. The overall goal is to close gaps in HIV prevention and care for gay and ACB heterosexual men. Each proposal addresses an area where we don’t know enough—and where not knowing puts men at risk.

Potential Impact?  New knowledge, more effective services, fewer new infections, better care, healthier lives

If all four projects are funded — and this could happen — these teams could change the HIV research landscape in Ontario and across Canada. The findings could lead to better HIV prevention and care services for gay and heterosexual ACB men, and better tests and therapies for anal cancer.

OHTN partners with CIHR on men’s health

Because HIV has a disproportionate impact on gay men, two-spirit men and both gay men and heterosexual men in African, Caribbean and Black communities, the OHTN has partnered with the CIHR Institute of Gender and Health and CANFAR (the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research) to ensure that at least $3,000,000 of the research pool for this competition will go to HIV-research teams in Ontario.

Putting our money into the pooled fund is one more way that the OHTN is demonstrating its commitment to population-specific research. It is also an effective way to leverage CIHR’s investment and ensure money for HIV research in Ontario. By partnering with CIHR, we’ve created a fund large enough to support the sort of high-impact, community relevant projects that gay and HIV-positive men need right now.

We’ll keep you posted

The results of the CIHR competition will be announced on October 31, 2014. Stay tuned to our blog and Twitter feed to find out how OHTN researchers will be contributing to a better understanding of HIV and men’s health in Ontario.

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