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HOPE T32 Training Grant Program

About the Program
Learning from HIV, our training grant has continually evolved to incorporate new opportunities and overcome challenges since it was established by Dr. Douglas Richman in 1990. Because of its inherent flexibility and our success in launching the careers of academic leaders, the program has been funded for seven consecutive cycles (until 2026) and supports a total of six postdoctoral trainees per year. Reappointment to a second year is contingent upon adequate performance and availability of funds. A third year is available only in special circumstances upon written request, strong justification, promising career trajectory (for example to allow resubmission of a K grant which was already scored favorable and is likely to be funded), and requires pre-approval by the T32 executive and selection committees (as well as continuous support from mentor).  

The overall goal of our program is to train and advance the careers of new leaders in the fields of HIV and other pandemics, like SARS-CoV-2. The ultimate goal is that trainees will replenish and grow the pool of academic leaders who will focus on improving the lives of people with HIV (PWH), persons at risk for HIV, and persons affected by other pandemics, ultimately bringing them to an end. The training themes align with the research priorities of the Office of AIDS Research (OAR). 

Areas of Research Focus and Inquiry Include: 

  1. Reducing the incidence of HIV, COVID-19, and other pandemics. Our research and training program seeks to improve our basic understanding of HIV transmission (e.g., behavior, molecular epidemiology, and network modeling), as well as the design, initiation, and evaluation of prevention and implementation strategies. 

  2. Reduce HIV Incidence. Our research and training program seeks to improve our basic understanding of HIV transmission (e.g., behavior, molecular epidemiology, and network modeling), as well as the design, initiation, and evaluation of prevention and implementation strategies.  

  3. Next-Generation HIV Therapies (including Cure). Many of our faculty's research programs focus on improving our understanding of mechanisms of viral persistence and resistance; measurement of reservoirs in infected cells and tissue compartments, like the central nervous system (CNS); and eradication strategies for all genders and age groups. 

  4. HIV-Associated Comorbidities, Coinfections, and Complications. Although antiretroviral therapy (ART) has improved the lives and well-being of PWH, morbidity, and mortality are still higher among PWH than people who do not have HIV. Treated PWH suffer from many comorbidities, including cardiovascular, metabolic, neuropsychiatric, and malignant conditions. Multiple program faculty work in this area. 

  5. Health disparities. This is one of OAR's cross-cutting priorities and is critically important to the field and to our faculty. Sex/gender, race, and ethnic health disparities exist in the U.S. (and elsewhere), with people of African ancestry, Native Americans, and Latinx bearing a disproportionately heavy disease burden in both the HIV- and COVID-pandemics. 

  6. COVID-19 (and other Pandemics). Like efforts with HIV, our COVID-19 research efforts and training will focus on reducing incidence, developing vaccines and new therapies, assessing the short- and long-term complications of COVID-19, and addressing associated health disparities. The retargeting of our program to focus on HIV and other pandemics aims to address the enormous and urgent public health and scientific significance of the current threat and those bound to emerge.

How to Apply:

The Selection Committee aims to identify applicants most likely to have outstanding training outcomes from this program, specifically excellent first author publications, the leadership of research projects, and ultimately, faculty appointments with outstanding biomedical careers (academic or industry) in a field consistent with the program’s scientific themes.

HOPE T32 applicants should plan to commit at least two years to the training program when the program will support them to conduct their research projects with their mentoring team. Trainees will receive hands-on career guidance and mentoring from the Research Review Committee and the Diversity Committee. Trainees will also attend journal clubs, work-in-progress meetings, HIV and Global Health (HIGH) Rounds, and other seminars relevant to their work. Most trainees also participate in formal graduate coursework relevant to their research.

An abiding emphasis of the training program is placed on diversity in the trainee cohort, including members of underrepresented groups in biomedical research: individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups (e.g., Black or African American, Hispanic, Indigenous, Alaskan Native), individuals with disabilities, individuals from sexual and gender minorities, and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.
 
Please note that the funds available to support the trainee do not entirely support the full UC San Diego postdoctoral salary and benefits. The balance (or “delta”) must be provided by the HOPE T32 research mentor and ranges between $5,000 and $30,000 based on the degree and the seniority of the trainee.
Candidates for the HOPE Training Program must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and must have a doctoral degree. 

To apply, please send the following information to Mayra Rodriguez (Program Coordinator) at mvrodriguez@health.ucsd.edu:
1. Current curriculum vitae
2. Three letters of recommendation from the candidate’s current postdoctoral mentor (if applicable), graduate degree mentor (if applicable), and at least one supporter or collaborator
3. Statement of prior research accomplishments (1 page)
4. Sample first author manuscript
5. Statement of interest in research relevant to the HOPE themes with future career goals (1 page)