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The mission of the Duke CFAR is to maximize the impact of HIV/AIDS research contributions by Duke investigators on the global HIV epidemic. The Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) Core contributes to this goal by supporting SBS-focused interdisciplinary research across the University.  Click here to contact the SBS Core or to request a consult.

The Duke CFAR Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) Core Services

  • Early Planning and Grant Preparation
  • Peer Review
  • Post-Award Consultation
  • Training and Capacity Building
  • Networking and Community Engagement
  • Mentoring
  • Dissemination of Study Findings and Manuscript Preparation

Click here to contact the SBS Core or to request a consult.

Early Planning and Grant Preparation

  • Brainstorm on research ideas, funding opportunities, and framing specific aims to address NIH AIDS priorities
  • Discuss implications of previous study findings to inform new grant applications
  • Provide consultation on selecting study designs and methods, appropriate SBS measures, and data analysis approaches
  • Provide administrative support, including proofreading, compiling supplemental materials, and providing letters of support from the SBS Core

Peer Review

Convene panel of Duke researchers to review and provide feedback on draft NIH grant applications prior to submission

Post-Award Consultation

Provide consultation and continuous support during study implementation, including efficient study startup and project management strategies

Training and Capacity Building

  • Provide scientific guidance in designing and implementing quantitative and qualitative research, including reviewing survey questions and items, refining qualitative question guides, programming online survey platforms and data management systems (e.g., REDCap), training qualitative interviewers, planning for interview transcription, and identifying approaches to qualitative data analysis
  • Partner with Duke’s QualCore to provide qualitative research guidance

Networking and Community Engagement

  • Bring together investigators from across disciplines
  • Build ties with community partners to share ideas and discuss opportunities to initiate new research meaningful to communities
  • Support community outreach in Durham and other research sites, including in global settings, and assist researchers in the community engagement process

Mentorship of early stage investigators

  • Provide mentorship to new CFAR members who are early stage investigators
  • Connect junior investigators with senior faculty

Dissemination of Study Findings and Manuscript Preparation

  • Provide suggestions on dissemination materials
  • Offer advice on community feedback sessions
  • Provide consultations on scientific journals for submission
  • Offer assistance with manuscript review and formatting

Click here to contact the SBS Core or to request a consult.
Need help with qualitative research? Click here to contact the QualCore.

NIH Funded Grants

Title: Leveraging Local Health System Electronic Health Record Data to Enhance PrEP Access in Southeastern Louisiana: A Community-Informed Approach Principal Investigator: Nwora Lance Okeke, MD, MPH
Dates: June 2022 – May 2027
Funding: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Louisiana exemplifies the disparity between HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) need and uptake in the South, ranking 4th among US states in HIV incidence in 2018 while ranking 46th in PrEP uptake the following year. To date, few solutions have emerged to address barriers to optimal PrEP utilization in Louisiana and the South overall. Our team has previously demonstrated proof-of-concept of the utility of electronic health record (EHR)-based machine learning (ML) algorithms for identifying incident HIV cases (surrogate for PrEP candidates) within healthcare systems, outperforming current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) PrEP indication guidelines. This promising methodology has never been implemented in a Southern healthcare system, and the best approach for incorporating health system-based EHR risk prediction models into community HIV prevention efforts is unclear. The proposed project seeks to evaluate two novel approaches to expanding EHR-based model implementation beyond their originating health systems and into the communities they serve: 1) an asynchronous strategy involving study team and local community-based personnel notifying community members at risk of HIV infection using a monthly report generated by the EHR risk model 2) a real-time strategy using best practice advisories to alert ED and UC providers of persons flagged as increased risk for HIV by the model during acute care encounters

Title: Addressing barriers to anti-hypertensive medication adherence among persons living who have achieved viral suppression
Principal Investigator: Charles Muiruri, MPH, PhD
Dates: August 2021 – July 2026
Funding: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Among those with hypertension, persons living with HIV (PWH) have a 50% higher risk of incident myocardial infarction compared to the general population, and they often fail to meet evidence-based treatment goals for hypertension. An important contributing factor for insufficient blood pressure control is nonadherence to antihypertensive medications. Research on medication adherence for PWH has largely focused on antiretroviral therapy adherence with limited focus on adherence to other non-AIDS condition medications. Major determinants of adherence to antihypertensive medications are driven by a confluence of factors that operate at the patient, provider, and healthcare system levels. However, there is a lack of data on how to harness these levels of influence to impact initiation, implementation, and management of adherence to antihypertensive medications for PWH and hypertension. The question, then, is how can we adapt evidence- based interventions to target specific barriers at different levels of influence to reduce antihypertensive medication nonadherence for PWH in order to improve blood pressure control?

Title: A Mental Health Intervention to Improve HIV Outcomes in Tanzanian Youth
Principal Investigator: Dorothy Dow, MD, MSc
April 2021 – January 2026
Funding: National Institute of Mental Health (
R01 MH124476)

The proposed research employs a novel and innovative intervention that addresses mental health challenges and life skills to empower young people (10-24 years of age) to live a healthy and productive life despite living with HIV. An investment in developmentally tailored interventions to prevent or reduce mental health challenges in this important population will result in improved adherence to medication and viral suppression, leading to improved physical health and productivity in society. Relevant to the NIH HIV- related research priorities, this intervention addresses mental health as a comorbid condition and seeks to reduce HIV incidence through increased viral suppression that in turn reduces the risk of HIV transmission to others.

Title: Modeling the effects of chronic marijuana use on neuroinflammation and HIV-related neuronal injury
Principal Investigator: Christina Meade, Ph.D.
September 2020 – August 2025
Funding: National Institute on Drug Abuse (
R01 DA052827)

Neurological complications of HIV disease remain a persistent clinical problem even in the age of combination antiretroviral therapy. Marijuana, which is the most commonly abused drug among persons with HIV, may have therapeutic benefit, but it may also be associated with neurobiological harms. This study applies a hypothesis-driven approach to examine the effects of chronic marijuana use on HIV-associated inflammation and its subsequent impacts on central nervous system function, with the goal of identifying the mechanisms through which cannabinoids modulate neurological disorders and other comorbidities in persons with HIV.

Title: A stigma responsive service delivery model for HPV-based screening among women living with HIV
Principal Investigator: Megan Huchko, MD, MPH
Dates: July 2022 – June 2025

Funding: National Cancer Institute and Fogarty International Center

Women living with HIV (WLWH) are at increased biologic risk for infection with human papillomavirus (HPV) and development of pre-invasive and invasive cervical cancer. The World Health Organization has recently called for HIV-programs to bolster their efforts to prevent cervical cancer through integrated screening services. Understanding and addressing stigma, including the intersection of HIV, HPV and cervical cancer-related stigma, will be crucial to designing interventions that will facilitate the uptake of cancer screening among WLWH and women in high HIV prevalence settings like western Kenya. Cancer-related stigma negatively influences several determinants of cancer screening uptake, including perception of cancer risk, cancer screening benefit, and acceptability of screening methods. In our prior work to evaluate HPV-based screening in Kenya, we found that lack of education about cervical cancer and low awareness of screening benefits, both of which can potentiate cancer-related stigma, were major barriers to screening uptake. Our team also found that misperceptions and stigma about an HPV diagnosis and cancer were associated with reduced rates of follow-up among women who tested positive for HPV. Our team developed a stigma framework to inform and validate a measurement tool for HPV-, cervical cancer- and HIV-related stigmas. We found that educational messages focused on cancer-related outcomes and HPV epidemiology, including risks related to sexual behavior and HIV, were stigmatizing, while support from social networks and emphasis on the availability of effective treatment reduced stigma and promoted screening uptake.

Title: Telehealth to Reduce Suicidality and Improve HIV Care Engagement in Tanzania
Principal Investigator: Brandon Knettel, Ph.D.
April 2021 – March 2025
Funding: National Institute of Mental Health (
K08 MH124459)

Suicidal ideation is strikingly common among people living with HIV worldwide, leading to higher burden of disease for both mental illness and HIV, poor HIV care engagement, increased transmission risk, and loss of life. In this K08 Career Development Award, Dr. Knettel proposes to develop and pilot test a 3-session, nurse-delivered telehealth counseling intervention to reduce suicidality and improve HIV care engagement among people living with HIV in Tanzania. By completing the proposed research and training plans, Dr. Knettel seeks to create a scalable intervention model to address a critical public health challenge.

Title: Sexual and Gender Minority Mental Health in Low and Middle Income Countries (SMILE)
Multiple Principal Investigators: Sara Legrand, Ph.D. and Kathryn Whetten, Ph.D.
May 2020 – February 2025
Funding: National Institute of Mental Health (
R01 MH119101)

Sexual and Gender Minority (SGM) Mental Health In Low and Middle Income Countries (SMILE) SMILE will characterize the mental health symptomatology and needs of seven different SGM groups in three culturally and contextually distinct LMICs. Respondent Driven Sampling (RDS) as well as mass media recruitment will be used to enroll a longitudinal cohort; the cultural, contextual, interpersonal, and individual determinants of mental health outcomes over 24 months will be identified. Discrete Choice Experiments (DCEs) will be used to elicit SGM preferences for different characteristics of evidence-based mental health treatments (EBTs) that can be feasibly provided and sustained for this very vulnerable population.

Title: Start the conversation: A multi-level PrEP initiative for Black women in NOLA
Multiple Principal Investigators: Amy Corneli, Ph.D., MPH and Meredith Clement, MD
January 2022 – December 2024
Funding: National Institute of Mental Health (
R34 MH129211)

For Black cisgender women living in New Orleans, Louisiana, the rate of new HIV diagnosis is almost 7 times higher than that of White women; uptake of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) has been limited. In our previous research, we found that Black cisgender women do not know of other Black cisgender women taking PrEP, and Black women are not offered PrEP during routine medical care. Therefore, we will develop and pilot implementation strategies at the patient- and provider-levels that are designed to increase PrEP uptake and retention in PrEP care among Black cisgender women.

Title: Social support to retain South African adolescents living with HIV in care and improve ART adherence.
Principal Investigator: Tiarney Ritchwood, Ph.D.
August 2019 – July 2024
Funding: National Institute of Mental Health (
K08 MH118965)

To end the HIV/AIDS pandemic, it is critical that we retain adolescents living with HIV (ALWH) in HIV care. This may be best achieved by intervening with people in their lives whom they view as supportive. The purpose of the current study is to develop a feasible, acceptable, and sustainable intervention that will not only benefit ALWH and the supportive people in their lives, but also benefit their communities and society at large.

Title: Developing an mHealth Intervention that Leverages Social Networks to Improve ART Adherence among HIV-Infected Adolescents in South Africa
Principal Investigator: Marta Mulawa, PhD, MHS
Dates: June 2019 – May 2024
Funding: National Institute of Mental Health

The proposed Mentored Research Scientist Development Award (K01) will provide Dr. Mulawa with the training and mentorship to become an independent behavioral scientist focused on the development and evaluation of innovative multi-level interventions that reduce AIDS-related morbidity and mortality in resource- limited settings. The objective of the proposed research is to identify social network-level factors associated with adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) among perinatally HIV-infected adolescents in Cape Town, South Africa, and to use this information to develop and pilot test a mobile health (mHealth) intervention to promote ART adherence by engaging the social networks of this population. This K01 will provide the necessary support for Dr. Mulawa to achieve the following scientific training objectives: (1) obtain investigator- level skills in the design, execution, and evaluation of clinical trials, (2) build expertise in mHealth intervention development, deployment, and evaluation, (3) enrich statistical capacities in the analysis of egocentric and longitudinal social network data, and (4) gain proficiency in adolescent-specific theories of behavior change and concepts with salience to the South African cultural context.

Title: Role of cannabis on HIV-related cognitive impairment: a brain connectomics study
Principal Investigator: Christina Meade, Ph.D.
July 2018 – April 2024
Funding: National Institute on Drug Abuse (
R01 DA047149)

Of the 1.1 million Americans living with HIV/AIDS, nearly half will experience HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders that impact daily functioning. Marijuana, the mostly commonly abused drug among HIV-infected persons, may accelerate the development and progression of neurocognitive impairments. This study applies a connectomics approach to examine how HIV and marijuana interact to disrupt neural networks that underlie cognitive functioning, with implications for the development of improved diagnostics and treatments.

Title: Efficacy Testing of a Culturally Relevant Stigma Intervention in WLWH in Tanzania
Multiple Principal Investigators: Michael Relf, Ph.D., RN, Mrema Noel Kilonzo, Laura Nyblade
September 2021 – May 2023
Funding: Fogarty International Center (
R21 TW012007)

Stigma is a significant problem for Tanzanian women living with HIV. It has a negative impact on disclosing their HIV status to family members, friends, and sexual partners; postponing or refusing care; seeking healthcare services sought outside one’s community for fear of confidentiality breaches; starting antiretroviral therapy (ART) later than recommended and having troubles taking ART as prescribed; and reducing quality of life. Despite the negative impact of stigma on HIV outcomes, culturally and contextually sensitive interventions to help reduce internalized stigma associated with HIV are limited. This study will test an intervention adapted to the lives and experiences of Tanzanian women living with HIV.

Title: Pathways to cardiovascular disease prevention and impact of specialty referral in under-represented racial/ethnic minorities with HIV
Principal Investigator: Gerald Bloomfield, MD, MPH
Dates: September 2018 – March 2023
Funding: National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (R01 MD013493)

The proposed research is relevant to public health because cardiovascular disease comorbidity is a dire health concern for under-represented racial/ethnic minorities living with HIV. As a consequence of the work proposed, we expect to identify the underlying pathways leading to better cardiac health outcomes for under-represented racial/ethnic minorities with HIV. The project is relevant to the part of the NIH's and NIMHD's missions that pertain to scientific inquiry to improve minority health and reduce health disparities.

Title: A Personalized mHealth Approach to Smoking Cessation for Veterans Living with HIV
Principal Investigator: Sarah Wilson, Ph.D.
April 2018 – March 2023
Funding: Veterans Affairs (
K2 HX002398)

Veterans living with HIV smoke at higher rates than Veterans without HIV, and quit rates among smokers with HIV are low. Despite smoking-related mortality and morbidity among HIV-positive Veterans, smoking cessation research in this population is lacking. Among Veteran smokers with HIV, behavioral/pharmacological smoking cessation treatments are underutilized and furthermore may have low efficacy. The proposed CDA-2 projects use technology to optimize the reach and efficacy of smoking cessation treatment. The intervention (MESH: Mobile Contingency Management plus Evidence-Based Smoking Cessation for HIV-Positive Veterans) uses mobile health and telehealth technology to deliver a) individually personalized smoking cessation counseling and pharmacotherapy, b) behavioral reinforcement for abstinence, and c) relapse-prevention messaging. Proposed projects focus on iterative intervention design and feasibility testing in preparation for a larger trial.

Title: A Clinic-Based Behavioral Intervention to Reduce Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Persons Living with HIV
Principal Investigator: Nwora Lance Okeke, MD, MPH
January 2018 – December 2022
Funding: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (
K23 HL137611)

Although effective antiretroviral therapy has transformed HIV infection from a disease with a dismal prognosis to a manageable chronic disease, persons with chronically suppressed HIV are at a 40% higher risk of myocardial infarction and stroke than uninfected persons. Though much effort has been focused on determining the pathophysiology of atherosclerosis in HIV- infected persons, innovative strategies are needed to adapt the HIV clinical care team to the evolving medical needs of the HIV population, including comprehensive atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) risk management. An essential part of employing effective initiatives to incorporate ASCVD primary prevention into HIV care is understanding what models of chronic disease care have worked in the past. The overall research objective is to determine optimal models of care for ASCVD primary prevention in HIV-infected persons and to investigate the role of clinical case managers in improving ASCVD preventative care in the HIV clinic setting. The proposed study will employ the innovative approach of telephone-based interventions for the augmentation of in-clinic care to address ASCVD risk reduction in HIV-infected persons, a high-risk group for ASCVD.

CFAR Administrative Supplements, Pilot Grants and Microgrants

Title: Implementation Strategies for Integrating Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder in HIV Care (CFAR Microgrant)
Principal Investigator: Brandon Knettel, Ph.D.
Funding: Duke CFAR Microgrant
Start Date: November 1, 2021

Title: Providing A Resource: Telehealth at Needle Exchanges to Reach Underserved People (PARTNER UP)
Principal Investigator: Mehri McKellar, MD
Funding: CFAR Administrative Supplement
Start Date: September 15, 2021

 Title: Addressing barriers to achieving treatment goals for cardiometabolic disorders for persons living with HIV in the Southeastern United States
Principal Investigator: Charles Muiruri, Ph.D.
Funding: CFAR Administrative Supplement
Start Date: September 15, 2021

Title: Preparing for implementation of strategies to promote uptake of long-acting injectable PrEP among Black same gender loving men in HBCU communities
Principal Investigator: Amy Corneli, Ph.D., MPH
Funding: CFAR Ending the HIV Epidemic Administrative Supplement
Start Date: September 15, 2021

Title: Characterizing treatment regimen fatigue among older adults living with HIV
Principal Investigator: Tiarney Ritchwood, Ph.D.
Funding: Duke CFAR Pilot Funding
Start Date: July 22, 2020

Title: Advancing PrEP Delivery: An Assessment of the Readiness of Key Stakeholders for the Delivery of PrEP in the Urgent Care Setting
Principal Investigator: Charles Burns, MD
Funding: Duke CFAR Microgrant
Start Date: April 20, 2020

Title: Engaging pharmacies in HIV prevention in South Carolina
Principal Investigator: Mehri McKellar, MD

Funding: Duke CFAR Special Project Award

Friday, July 12, 2024

This month, we are excited to highlight Global Health Instructor and faculty member in the Center for Health Policy and Inequities Research, the Duke Global Health Institute, and the Duke Sexual and Gender Minority Wellness Program, Dr. Dirk A. Davis.

Dr. Davis’s work focuses on improving the health of sexual and gender minority communities through community-engaged behavioral interventions. In this interview, we discuss his journey into global health as a Peace Corps Volunteer, his graduate research improving sustainable HIV care and PrEP engagement among gay and bisexual men in Guatemala, and his current work at Duke including his recently awarded NIMH K01 grant.

You can read the full article here.

Friday, October 13, 2023

This month, we are excited to highlight Assistant Professor in Population Health Sciences at Duke University, Dr. Suur Ayangeakaa, PhD.

Dr. Suur Ayangeakaa is at the forefront of efforts to combat HIV disparities among ethnic minorities, particularly African American communities. Her journey from an undergraduate internship in Zambia to her current role at Duke is driven by a deep commitment to understanding and addressing the challenges surrounding HIV prevention. In this interview, we explore her professional trajectory, her current research, her goals at Duke, and the support  she has received from the CFAR SBS Core in advancing her HIV-related research.

You can read the full article here.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

This month, we are excited to highlight Associate Professor in the Duke School of Nursing and Director and Principal Investigator of the HEEAT Research Lab, Dr. Schenita Randolph, PhD, MPH, FAAN

The HEEAT Research Lab addresses health disparities through engagement, equity, advocacy, and trust using a nurse led model of care and trusted spaces that already exist in Black communities. A nurse for over 25 years, Randolph came to Duke seven years ago as an Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing with a PhD in public health. Within the first couple of years, she became an Associate Director in the Community Engagement Core of the Duke CTSI.

You can read the full article here.

Monday, January 9, 2023

Click the link below to view the Policy Communication Rocket Talk held as part of the SBS Core’s Scientific Communication Series.

North Carolina Senator Graig Meyer promoted using stories when communicating with policymakers, and suggested capturing emotions and beliefs first and then complementing with research evidence. 

Jenni Owen, Director of the North Carolina Office of Strategic Partnerships, described how researchers can effectively communicate with policymakers, and included common examples of ineffective research communication and resources such as online tools and partnership opportunities.

Watch the Rocket Talk on YouTube!

Monday, December 12, 2022

Click the link below to view the SBS Core’s December 2022 Rocket Talk on Scientific Communication: Interdisciplinary Communication. Dr. Christine Daniels, with Asklepios Biopharmaceutical, Inc., focused on reimagining science communication through a medical anthropological framework and audience engagement. Dr. Ariana Eily of Elon University, described four main steps for how to communicate and collaborate with different audiences, including useful storytelling template examples for communicating science.

Watch the Rocket Talk on YouTube!

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Click the link below to view the SBS Core’s November 2022 Rocket Talk on Scientific Communication: Media Communication. Mr. Michael Penn, with Duke Global Health Institute, focused on telling scientific stories to nonscientific audiences, six tips for presenting research to the public, and benefits of direct engagement. Mr. Karl Bates, with the Duke University Research Communications, described four tips for science communication and the deficit model, including how to talk to the media and asking for help from university communicators.

Watch the Rocket Talk on YouTube!

Monday, September 12, 2022

This month, we are excited to highlight infectious disease specialist and Assistant Professor in the School of Medicine, Dr. Charles Burns, MD.

Originally from the Chicago area, Dr. Burns first came to Duke in 2018 as an infectious disease fellow. His interest in this specialty began during a year off between college and medical school, when he worked on vaccine and HIV research. Describing what interests him about HIV research, he says “It’s not only a medical disease. It’s also a social disease, and there’s a lot of factors that are at play.”

You can read the full article here.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Click the link below to view the SBS Core’s May 2022 Rocket Talk. Dr. Susan Laird from CDC presented Health Equity Guiding Principles – Getting Started and Making it Stick, in which she shared the reasons behind the formation of CDC's Health Equity Guiding Principles for Inclusive Communication and the importance of treating health equity as a public health crisis. Her presentation was followed by a conversation with two community members, Mr. TerL Gleason and Ms. Alicia Diggs, both of whom are living with HIV and working within their community to change the way people talk about HIV and those who are living with it.

Watch the Rocket Talk on YouTube!

Friday, April 29, 2022

This month, we are excited to highlight Assistant Professor in Population Health Science and Global Health, Dr. Charles Muiruri

Dr. Charles Muiruri is a dually appointed Assistant Professor in Population Health Sciences  and Global Health, as well as a visiting lecturer at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical University College (KCMC) in Moshi, Tanzania.  Dr. Muiruri has experience in startups, banking and retail services both in Kenya and the United States. He credits his diverse career background – which includes 15 years of project management as a global research coordinator – for making him a well-rounded researcher.

You can read the full article here.

Monday, February 14, 2022

This month, we are excited to highlight Assistant Professor of Nursing and Global Health, Marta Mulawa, PhD, MHS.

Dr. Mulawa first came to Duke in 2016 as a postdoctoral scholar with the Duke Global Health Institute. Today, she is an Assistant Professor of Nursing and Global Health in the Duke University School of Nursing and at the Duke Global Health Institute. As part of her recent K01 award, Dr. Mulawa has established a collaborative relationship with other researchers and colleagues at the University of Cape Town, South Africa (UCT). Her research focuses on improving the understanding of the impact of social networks on HIV-related behaviors, particularly those related to with treatment and prevention outcomes.

We recently spoke with Dr. Mulawa about her research trajectory, her latest K01 Mentored Research Scientist Development Award from the NIMH, and how she has benefited from the resources and support provided by the CFAR – you can read the full conversation here.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Click the link below to view the SBS Core’s January 2022 Rocket Talk on NIH Stigma and Discrimination Research Toolkit and Priorities: A View from NIMH and NIDA. Drs. Brenda Curtis (NIDA Intramural Research Program) and Gregory Greenwood (NIMH Division of AIDS Research) presented NIH’s recently developed toolkit for stigma and discrimination research, as well as stigma research findings and priorities for NIDA and NIMH.

Watch the Rocket Talk on YouTube!

Access the Stigma and Discrimination Research Toolkit here.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Click the link below to view the SBS Core’s November 2021 Rocket Talk on Integrating a Racial Justice Lens into HIV Prevention, Care, and Treatment Research. Christin Daniels and Jessie Byrd, members of the DUSON Center for Nursing Research’s Racial Justice Task Force, presented their checklist (DUSON-INFUSE) designed to help researchers embed an equity lens throughout the research lifecycle.

Throughout the discussion, presenters and attendees shared several resources they use in their current work. Links to those are below.

Watch the Rocket Talk on YouTube!

Resources from the November Rocket Talk –

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Dr. Dorothy Dow first came to Duke as a Pediatric Infectious Disease fellow and graduate student in the Master of Science in Global Health program. As a fellow, she traveled to Moshi, Tanzania and worked on a project researching prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT). Despite the success of that work, Dr. Dow noticed a discrepancy between the success they had seen in graduating HIV uninfected infants from the project and seeing adolescents with HIV in her clinical practice.

Click here to read more of this interview with Dr. Dorothy Dow.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Click the link below to view the SBS Core's September 2021 Rocket Talk on an Introduction to INTERACT, QualCore, and the Quantitative Core.  Drs. Leah Zullig, Amy Corneli, and Cliburn Chan provided an overview of these cores and how CFAR SBS investigators can work with them on their research studies.

Watch the Rocket Talk on YouTube!

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Click the link below to view the SBS Core’s March 2021 Rocket Talk on Tips for Effective Data Visualization. Dr. Eric Monson, with the Duke University Libraries Center for Data and Visualization Sciences, described basic guidelines for effective data visualization and common pitfalls to avoid when presenting quantitative data.

Watch the Rocket Talk on YouTube!

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Click the link below to view the SBS Core’s December Rocket Talk on mHealth. Drs. John Mitchell and Roger Vilardaga described their mHealth work, including development, implementation, logistical challenges, and experiences of using mHealth in social and behavioral sciences research.

Watch the Rocket Talk on YouTube!

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Click the link below to view the SBS Core’s October Rocket Talk: Biomarkers in Social and Behavioral Sciences. This talk focused on biomarker collection in social and behavioral sciences research. Janet Huebner presented the Duke Biomarkers Shared Resource—which assists investigators with the design and implementation of molecular and protein assays to evaluate biochemical and inflammatory marker—paying special attention to markers most pertinent to HIV investigators; Rosa Gonzales-Guarda presented the SER Hispano Project and discussed the processes her team has developed for obtaining biomarker specimens in the community; and SBS Core Associate Directors Christina Meade and Sarah Wilson discussed collecting specimens in the community setting with special focuses on blood collection and adaptations being made in light of COVID-19.

Watch the Rocket Talk on YouTube!

Thursday, October 15, 2020

CFAR SBS Core Member Highlight: Joy Noel Baumgartner, PhD, MSSW
Dr. Joy Noel Baumgartner has 20 years of experience working in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) to strengthen the delivery of HIV, reproductive health, maternal and child health (MCH), and mental health services. As Associate Professor of Global Health and the Director of the Duke Global Health Institute’s Evidence Lab, she uses this experience to lead their mission to conduct research in LMICs with local partners to inform evidence-based programs and interventions. Her current research is the perfect example of this work in action.
Click here to read more!

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Click the link below to view the SBS Core’s first Rocket Talk (formerly known as Chalk Talks) on Implementation Science by Dr. Sarah Wilson. This talk focused on fundamentals of implementation science in HIV-related research. Implementation science is a relatively new field, and involves empirical investigation of methods for increasing the use and quality of healthcare innovations and evidence-based practice in healthcare settings. Dr. Wilson reviewed core concepts related to implementation frameworks, methodological considerations, and common misconceptions. Examples involved specific applications of implementation science to HIV treatment and prevention, including grant-writing and funding resources for implementation science research.
Watch the Rocket Talk on YouTube!

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

What is an SBS Core Think Tank Session?

Duke CFAR Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) Core Confidentiality and Integrity Statement


News Archives



SBS Core group

SBS Core group email:

Amy Corneli, PhD, MPH, Core Director
CFAR SBS focus area: Prevention

Dr. Amy Corneli is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Population Health Sciences and Medicine, and a faculty member of the Duke Clinical Research Institute. She has been engaged in the behavioral aspects of biomedical HIV prevention in sub-Saharan Africa since 2001, including contributing to several biomedical HIV prevention clinical trials and leading NIH-funded studies exploring sexual behaviors related to and adherence with pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Dr. Corneli’s U.S.-based HIV-related research portfolio includes investigating methods to increase PrEP uptake and adherence among Black men who have sex with men (BMSM), and she currently leads two CFAR Administrative “Ending the HIV Epidemic” supplements with BMSM and Black women in the U.S. South.

In addition to her role as Director, Dr. Corneli will collaborate directly with the Biomedical Prevention Scientific Working Group and provide technical support to Core users on HIV prevention, primarily on PrEP. She also advises Core users on engaging key stakeholders in qualitative and mixed-methods research to inform clinical research, socio-behavioral interventions, and material and questionnaire development, and serves as the liaison to QualCore, a group of PhD- and master-level social scientists at Duke that provides technical support in qualitative research to Core users.

Christina Meade, PhD, Associate Director
CFAR SBS focus area: HIV comorbidities

Dr. Meade is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University. Dr. Meade’s NIDA-funded research program investigates neurocognitive functioning and risk behavior among drug users living with or at high risk for HIV infection, including the evaluation of HIV prevention approaches for this population. As a licensed psychologist, Dr. Meade integrates neuroimaging, behavioral, and clinical methods, with the goal of translating results to novel treatments that improve neurobehavioral functioning. She currently leads a project funded through NIDA’s Avenir Award Program that utilizes mobile health technology to assess the relationship between decision-making processes and risky behaviors in natural settings. She also serves as PI on multiple R01 neuroimaging studies on the effects of cocaine, cannabis, and other drugs on HIV-associated neurocognitive impairment.

As an Associate Director, Dr. Meade provides technical support to Core users on HIV comorbidities, including HIV and substance use, mental health challenges, and other medical conditions. Her role also includes providing guidance for Core users on engaging hard-to-reach populations for HIV research; providing expertise on incorporating biomarkers into social and behavioral studies of HIV; conducting clinic-based recruitment; and abstracting clinical data from electronic medical records.

Michael Relf, PhD, RN, ANEF, FAAN, Associate Director
CFAR SBS focus area: Care engagement and retention

Dr. Relf is an Associate Professor of Nursing and Global Health and Associate Dean for Global and Community Affairs in Duke’s School of Nursing. Dr. Relf has worked at the forefront of nurse-led research on the psychosocial aspects of HIV/AIDS care since joining the Duke faculty in 2008, with specific emphasis on addressing intimate partner violence, HIV-related stigma, and interventions to promote engagement in HIV-oriented primary care. Dr. Relf is currently a PI on a Fogarty R21 aimed at reducing internalized stigma among women with HIV in Tanzania and was a previous recipient of a CFAR Pilot Grant in Rwanda extending a similar intervention, building upon a past National Institute of Nursing Research project in the U.S. South.

As an Associate Director, Dr. Relf provides technical support to Core users on HIV care engagement and retention. In addition, he leads the CFAR’s growing collaboration with the School of Nursing, and assists investigators in developing global partnerships and disseminating research findings to international collaborators.

Sarah Wilson, PhD, Associate Director
CFAR SBS focus area: Community collaboration and engagement, and implementation science

Dr. Wilson is an Assistant Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and a Clinical Psychologist with the Durham VA Health Care System. She is also an investigator at the VA Center of Innovation to Accelerate Discovery and Practice Transformation, and a 2018-2020 Fellow in the Implementation Research Institute at Washington University. Dr. Wilson’s research program focuses on testing and implementation of interventions for substance use, psychological symptoms, and health behavior change in at-risk populations, including an active research program in smoking cessation among Veterans Living with HIV. Dr. Wilson also has expertise in HIV community mobilization efforts, and has established valuable extensive networks with community organizations in the areas of health, policy, and human services.

As an Associate Director, Dr. Wilson provides technical support to Core users in the areas of community collaboration and engagement, and provides consultations on implementation science. She also advises on the development of training standards for community intervention study protocols, and assists with the development and dissemination of study findings to non-scientific communities.

Dani Coan, BSW, Core Coordinator

Ms. Danielle (Dani) Coan is a Clinical Research Coordinator in the Department of Population Health Sciences. Ms. Coan has 4 years of research experience in different topics including working in industrial and systems engineering, specifically in disaster relief and resilience in food banks around North Carolina. She also worked on complex trauma in adolescents, resilience in refugees, and eating disorders in black women. Ms. Coan is a co-author on Covid-19 and Binge Eating in Black Women: A Qualitative Study and has published an article on Anorexia in Black Women. She has interests in qualitative analysis, literature reviews, and motivational interviews. Ms. Coan is particularly passionate about serving underrepresented populations and creating useful, accessible, and impactful research to help these communities.

Ms. Coan graduated from North Carolina State University with a Bachelor's in Social Work and a minor in Theatre