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NINDS Sponsors Technical Neuro-AIDS Workshop

By Shannon Garnett

NINDS recently sponsored a workshop to introduce a new funding mechanism that focuses on the neurological complications of AIDS. The purpose of the workshop was to provide technical assistance to investigators interested in applying for and managing awards from the new initiative called "Specialized Neuroscience Research Programs on Health Disparity: HIV and the Nervous System (neuro-AIDS SNRP)."

The initiative was created to augment and strengthen the research capabilities of faculty, students and fellows at minority institutions by supporting the development of new, or the enhancement of ongoing, basic and clinical neuro-AIDS-related research projects and programs, and by developing their necessary infrastructures.

At the 2-day workshop, held in Baltimore, researchers learned about the new initiative and were encouraged to collaborate with NIH-supported neuro-AIDS investigators, researchers at minority institutions and health-care providers.

Dr. Alfred Gordon (r), director of the Office of Special Programs in Neuroscience, NINDS, greets workshop speakers (from l) Dr. Allan Noonan, senior advisor in the Office of the Surgeon General, and Dr. John Griffin, chair of the department of neurology at Johns Hopkins University.

"NINDS wants to improve the health status of Americans who are at an increased risk for AIDS and neurological complications associated with HIV infection, and to eliminate the health disparity those affected with AIDS often experience," said Dr. Alfred Gordon, director of NINDS's Office of Special Programs in Neuroscience. According to the lead administrator of neuro-AIDS SNRP, Dr. Joana Rosario, "Focused research and research career development programs such as the neuro-AIDS SNRP are intended to achieve those objectives."

Although awards under this initiative are exploratory and intended to enhance pilot neuro-AIDS research projects, NINDS program directors also expect the funded projects to help advance national efforts to disseminate medical information and technologies that will better serve the health needs of the public on this disease. Institutions that develop successful research programs under the neuro-AIDS SNRP initiative will receive additional support to help them create more intensive and larger research studies aimed at reducing the national burden of HIV and AIDS.

Workshop speakers included Dr. John Griffin, chairman of the department of neurology at Johns Hopkins University; Dr. Allan Noonan, senior advisor in the Office of the Surgeon General, who shared national data on several diseases, including AIDS and stroke; and NINDS deputy director Dr. Audrey Penn, who gave opening remarks.

Attending the workshop were representatives from six minority institutions including the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Florida A&M University, Howard University, Meharry Medical College, the University of Hawaii and the University of Puerto Rico.

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