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Fellowship Program: Research Opportunities
Clinical Research Programs:

Clinical Research Opportunities:

Scott Hammer

Mary Ann Chiasson

Jay Dobkin

Yoko Furuya

Peter Gordon

Jessica Justman

Christine Kubin

Elaine Larson

Julie Myers

Lisa Saiman

Magdalena Sobieszczyk

Michael Yin


Basic Science Research Opportunities:
Scott Hammer
Frank Lowy
David Fidock

Anne Catrin-Uhlemann
Stephen Goff

Alice Prince
Vincent Racaniello


HIV Prevention and Treatment Research Program
The goals of the HIV Prevention and Treatment Research Program (HPTRP) (Scott Hammer, principal investigator, Magdalena Sobieszczyk and Michael Yin, co-investigators) are to set the standards of care for people living with HIV and to help speed the development of an effective vaccine to prevent HIV infection. The program works toward these goals by engaging the community and conducting clinical studies within the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Columbia University Medical Center. The HPTRP participates actively in studies sponsored by three NIH-funded networks: the Adult AIDS Clinical Trials Group (AACTG), and the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN). The HPTRP also supports pharmaceutical studies. There are opportunities for fellows and residents to participate in all aspects of HIV/AIDS clinical trials.

The AACTG is the largest NIH-sponsored HIV clinical trials organization and plays a major role in defining the standards of care for treatment of HIV infection and opportunistic diseases related to HIV/AIDS around the world. We provide a wide range of treatment studies four areas of focus (1) end organ disease and inflammation, (2) HIV reservoirs and viral eradication  (3) hepatitis, (4) tuberculosis.

The HVTN is an NIH-sponsored international network that was designed to facilitate the process of testing preventive vaccines against HIV/AIDS. The New York City HIV Vaccine Trials Unit is a collaboration between the Columbia HPTRP and Project ACHIEVE (AIDS Community Health Initiative En route to a Vaccine Effort) which is part of the New York Blood Center (Beryl Koblin, PhD, principal investigator). The New York City HIV Vaccine Trials Unit supports a large number of HVTN-sponsored preventive vaccine trials, studies investigating combination prevention approaches, as well as a behavioral interventions among high risk individuals. Past and current fellows have conducted HIV prevention research projects with investigators in the Vaccine research unit.

Center for Interdisciplinary Research to Prevent Infections (CIRI)

CIRI aims to prepare biomedical researchers and others in interdisciplinary research with a focus on the prevention and control of antimicrobial resistance. Under the leadership of Elaine Larson, PhD, RN and Lisa Saiman, MD, the center has implemented a core program and curriculum to prepare biomedical researchers to conduct interdisciplinary research. The center also funds several demonstration projects designed to rationalize antimicrobial use and reduce antimicrobial resistance. CIRI offers a tremendous resource for pre- and postdoctoral fellows who are interested in true interdisciplinary research. The framework for CIRAR integrates health and risk communication, economics, informatics, epidemiology, and health services with the basic research and disciplinary expertise of its team members.

Recently, CIRI has awarded funding to three of our trainees conducting research on antimicrobial resistance: Jennifer Horan, Benjamin Miko and Stephanie Pouch.

Hospital Epidemiology and Antimicrobial Utilization, Resistance, and Stewardship

The Division of Infectious Diseases is actively involved in hospital epidemiology and antimicrobial stewardship at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. These programs are linked to numerous ongoing clinical research projects focusing on healthcare-associated infections and antimicrobial resistance, as well as outcomes research evaluating the impact of interventions in infection prevention and antimicrobial stewardship. Ongoing research projects include evaluations of specific antimicrobials such as polymyxin B and daptomycin, evaluations of multidrug-resistant gram-negative bacilli including those producing Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC), and severity criteria and outcomes of patients with Clostridium difficile infections. Past and current fellows have engaged in many of these clinical research projects with mentoring from Drs. Yoko Furuya, Christine Kubin, and Lisa Saiman.

Transplant Infectious Diseases Program

The active transplant infectious diseases service presents many opportunities for collaborative and multidisciplinary research projects. Past and ongoing clinical research projects aim to, for example, develop new tools for diagnosis and treatment of multi-drug resistant infections in immunocompromised adults in the pre and post-transplantation period.

Past and current fellows have engaged in mentored research in the area of transplantation infectious diseases: Jennifer Horan, Stephanie Pouch and Claire Gordon.  

HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies
Founded in 1987 and continuously supported by a major grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies serves as a national and international hub for a network of research activities and community outreach. Research focuses on the intersection of HIV infection, gender, and sexuality; treatment strategies for infected populations; and innovative dissemination of scientific findings. More than one hundred researchers, clinicians, and support staff sustain the work of the center. Affiliated research is conducted through more than two dozen individual studies headed by leading investigators from various disciplines, including psychology, psychiatry, public health, anthropology, sociology, and social work. The center also works with a broad range of HIV-infected and HIV-affected populations and are committed to responding to the needs of underserved populations.

The Division of Infectious Diseases maintains active collaborations with faculty members from the Mailman School of Public Health in the Departments of Epidemiology and Sociomedical Sciences.  


University of KwaZulu-Natal, IACTU, and CAPRISA in South Africa
The division maintains a strong collaborative relationship with the Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa. The projects currently in place include the establishment of an International AIDS Clinical Trials Unit (IACTU) (Professor Umesh Lalloo, principal investigator) and the Centre for the AIDS Program of Research in South Africa, CAPRISA (Professor Salim Abdool Karim, principal investigator). CAPRISA's goal is to develop and undertake research that contributes to the understanding of HIV pathogenesis and epidemiology, as well as to build local research infrastructure and to provide training through research fellowships for young investigators from South Africa and the United States. One of the projects initiated by the CAPRISA research team is an NIH-funded acute infection study evaluating the clinical, immunological, and viral factors during acute and early HIV-1 subtype C infection. A large cohort of HIV-1 negative high risk women has been enrolled into this observational study.

The Columbia University International Family AIDS Program (IFAP), La Romana, Dominican Republic

IFAP is a non-profit organization that supports clinical services, and research, education and training. Program activities focus on improving direct care and treatment as well as preventive health education and services for TB and HIV-infected women, children and families and other vulnerable populations in the Dominican Republic.

HIV Treatment Centers in the Dominican Republic

Drs. Karen Brudney and Barbara Taylor have a long-standing relationship with two non-governmental organizations, the Instituto Dermatologico y Cirugia de Piel Dr. Huberto Bogaert Diaz and the Clinica Profamilia Evangelina Rodriguez which provide specialty HIV care and HIV prevention services in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. This collaboration supports a longitudinal cohort that examines treatment outcomes and the development of antiretroviral resistance among people living with HIV on antiretroviral therapy.

The International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs (ICAP)
Bringing together diverse initiatives aimed at addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs (ICAP) focuses on service delivery, research, and training/education in resource-limited settings. Faculty and staff provide support in program development, clinical issues, administration, training, monitoring and evaluation, and research endeavors. The program draws upon the broader resources of the Mailman School of Public Health, as well as those of Columbia University, to fulfill its mission. As a center within the school, and as part of the Columbia health sciences campus, ICAP is committed to participating in the life of the academic medical institution and to providing training opportunities for students, house staff, and fellows. ICAP offers postdoctoral trainees access to large databases in order to develop, conduct, and analyze cohort studies while addressing infectious disease epidemiology issues of global importance.

ICAP provides support and assistance to international partners and clinical facilities through these programs and initiatives:


Scott Hammer, MD
The Retrovirology Research Laboratory has been established to support HIV therapeutic and vaccine clinical trials with specialized virologic techniques that can be applied to clinical specimens to detect and quantify HIV expression in peripheral blood and tissue compartments, as well as to prepare specimens for HIV-specific immune assays. Dr Hammer's specific interests include HIV drug resistance and new assay development.

Frank Lowy, MD
Dr Lowy's research is focused on the pathogenesis and epidemiology of Staphylococcus aureus infections. Staphylococcus aureus remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality in both hospital- and community-acquired infections. The recent increase in antimicrobial resistance among strains of S. aureus has heightened concern about our limited understanding of the pathogenesis as well as the limited options available for the treatment of these life-threatening infections. Ongoing projects in Dr Lowy's laboratory include (1) identification and characterization of a staphylococcal protein that mediates binding to endothelial cells, (2) demographic and molecular epidemiologic investigation of staphylococcal colonization and disease in populations at high risk of S. aureus infection, (3) bacterial and cellular gene expression in murine models of infection, and (4) investigation of the biology of nasal colonization with S. aureus.

For more information visit Dr. Lowy's lab page

Anne-Catrin Uhlemann, MD, PhD

Dr. Uhlemann’s research is focused on identifying molecular mechanisms that allow epidemic S. aureus strains such as USA300 to successfully disseminate. This project uses a combined approach of whole-genome comparative sequencing of longitudinally collected samples, genetic manipulation, and functional studies on bacterial adhesion and survival. These molecular studies are informed by ongoing epidemiological studies on S. aureus transmission in the local community. This work has identified a potentially newly emerging S. aureus strain, ST398, which was previously only associated with close contacts to animals. Ongoing studies are aimed at elucidating the molecular mechanisms of its cross-species transfer and current animal-independent spread.

David Fidock, PhD
Dr. Fidock’s specialty Malaria drug resistance, chemotherapy, pathogenesis, cell development. "A major focus of our group is to elucidate the molecular basis of chloroquine resistance (CQR). By genetic linkage and positional cloning, we earlier identified the pfcrt gene, located within a chromosomal segment tightly linked to CQR, which encodes a novel 10-transmembrane transporter located on the intra-erythrocytic parasite’s digestive vacuole. Using allelic exchange techniques, we recently proved that mutations in this gene, identified in drug resistant parasites from around the globe, are sufficient to confer CQR to CQ-sensitive parasites. Current work focuses on understanding the contribution of the individual mutations to CQR, determining their impact on parasite resistance to other antimalarials, and investigating the biochemical basis of CQR. We are also developing animal models to explore the role of pre-existing immunity on host clearance of drug-resistant infections. In collaboration with Dr. Myles Akabas at AECOM, we are also investigating the natural transport properties of pfcrt in heterologous cells. Other studies focus on defining the role of PfATPase6, pfmdr1 and pfnhe in contributing to parasite susceptibility to artemisinin, quinine and mefloquine. We are also deeply involved in a major public/private partnership, funded by the Medicines for Malaria Venture and the NIH, and including GlaxoSmithKline and several academic partners, that aims to develop new antimalarial drugs that target fatty acid biosynthesis in the malaria parasite. Another aspect of our research is to investigate the molecular basis of how parasitized erythrocytes bind to host endothelium, enabling them to avoid splenic clearance. A variant antigen family, PfEMP1, mediates this binding. We are investigating mechanisms of gene regulation that contribute to this switching of gene expression between different members of this family and exploring the genetic basis of endothelial receptor specificity. The fourth area of research focuses on the digestive vacuole, the site of CQ action. Specifically, we are examining which ER or Golgi proteins are involved in protein trafficking to this compartment and using transfection and bio-informatic approaches to define sequence motifs that direct proteins to this site.

For more information visit Dr. Fidock's lab page

Stephen Goff, PhD
Dr. Stephen Goff is the Higgins Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics and a professor of microbiology. The central focus of his laboratory for several years has been a detailed genetic analysis of the replication cycle of the Moloney murine leukemia virus (M-MuLV). The major approach has been to create mutations in a cloned DNA copy of the viral genome by site-directed mutagenesis and to determine the effect of the mutations on the viral life cycle after transfer of the altered DNAs into mouse cells in culture. These genetic analyses have defined the functional domains of various viral proteins and the sites of their action on viral nucleic acids. Dr Goff's group has also expressed reverse transcriptase and integrase in bacteria and studied these enzymes biochemically. Recently, they have applied the yeast two-hybrid system to monitor protein-protein interactions between viral proteins, and to identify new host proteins that interact with the gag, pol and env gene products. Other members of the group are interested in the functions of several viral oncogenes, especially the tyrosine kinases v-abl and v-src, and related signal transduction molecules, including the axl/ark receptor kinase; mpl, the thrombopoietin receptor; pdeg, the retinal cGMP phosphodiesterase; and various cytokine receptors. Finally, embryonic stem cell technologies are being used to generate knock out mice deficient in these transduction molecules.

For more information, please visit the Dr. Goff's lab page

Vincent Racaniello, PhD
Dr. Vincent Racaniello is the Higgins Professor of Microbiology. Research in this laboratory is aimed at understanding the replication and pathogenesis of picornaviruses. These RNA-containing viruses cause a variety of human diseases including paralysis, myocarditis, conjunctivitis, and the common cold. Dr Racaniello's studies focus on the interaction of viruses with cell receptors, translation of the viral genome, and the molecular basis of viral pathogenesis. Dr Racaniello's group has developed a mouse model that is being used to address questions on the pathogenesis of poliomyelitis, such as how poliovirus infection is restricted to specific cell types such as neurons, how the virus spreads in the infected animal, and the basis for the attenuation phenotype of the live poliovirus vaccines. A similar approach has been utilized to establish mouse models for diseases caused by other picornaviruses, including echoviruses, rhinoviruses, and enteroviruses.

For more information, please visit the Dr. Racaniello's page

The Division of Infectious Diseases has affiliations throughout Columbia University Medical Center. Additional basic-science research opportunities for fellows are available with other faculty in the Department of Microbiology, the Columbia Center for Translational Immunology (Drs. Sykes and Farber), the Center for Infection and Immunity, and the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Division.