November 16, 2021—(BRONX, NY)—The National Institutes of Health (NIH) offers career development grants to young researchers—usually senior postdoctoral fellows or early-career faculty members. These awards, collectively known as K grants, enable recipients to conduct independent research and eventually compete for major grants. They also provide support and “protected time” for individuals considered to be on the path to a productive, independent clinical research career. ERC-CFAR researchers received an award in federal fiscal year 2021; their research projects are detailed below.
Medical Cannabis to Treat HIV-Associated Pain
People living with HIV (PLWH) have a high burden of pain, most often neuropathy (pain due to nerve damage). Pain management often involves opioids and other medications with negative side effects, which has prompted interest in alternative therapies such as medical cannabis. Pain and HIV are qualifying conditions for medical cannabis use in most states. Cannabis could impact pain in PLWH through multiple mechanisms such as reducing inflammation and improving psychological symptoms. However, no studies have evaluated the impact of medical cannabis on neuropathic pain, inflammation, psychological symptoms, and adverse events such as treatment adherence and failure. Now the National Institute on Drug Abuse has awarded Deepika Slawek, M.D., M.S., M.P.H., a four-year, $776,700 grant to conduct a clinical trial with 100 PLWH who have chronic neuropathic pain and are in the Medical Cannabis Program at Montefiore. The study will examine how medical cannabis products with differing THC and CBD concentrations that are legally dispensed in New York affect neuropathic pain, inflammation, and adverse events. Dr. Slawek is assistant professor of medicine at Einstein and an internist at Montefiore. (1K23DA053997-01A1)
Hormonal Influences on the Gut Microbiome and Cardiovascular Disease in Women with HIV
Women living with HIV face a higher risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) than uninfected women, possibly due to lower levels of the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. Preliminary research by Brandilyn Peters-Samuelson, Ph.D., suggests that menopause alters the gut microbiome of women living with HIV, potentially contributing to CVD risk. Thanks to a four-year, $689,376 grant from the NHLBI, Dr. Peters-Samuelson will use the ongoing Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) to further examine the relationship between sex hormones, the gut microbiome of menopausal women both living with and without HIV, and their association with subclinical CVD. The research may lead to new therapies that, by targeting the gut microbiome, help lower CVD risk in post-menopausal women with or without HIV. Dr. Peters-Samuelson is assistant professor of epidemiology & population health at Einstein. (1K01HL160146)
Posted on: Thursday, November 18, 2021