Mentored Pilot Program


The Center for HIV, Identification, Prevention and Treatment Services (CHIPTS) is proud to announce our 2024 Mentored Pilot Grant Program for emerging and new investigators (ranging from Doctoral Students to Assistant Professors). Through this grant program, applicants will obtain individualized, mentored research from engaged and committed faculty mentor/sponsors while conducting a well-defined research project. The successful completion of the proposed mentored research project is expected to enhance emerging and new investigators’ potential to develop into productive, independent research scientists. We are committed to increasing the diversity of the health-related research workforce, and strongly encourage proposals led by individuals with backgrounds that are underrepresented in the biomedical, behavioral, or clinical research workforce, including underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, gender, and sexual minorities and those with disabilities.

We are committed to increasing the diversity of the health-related research workforce, and strongly encourage proposals led by individuals with backgrounds that are underrepresented in the biomedical, behavioral, or clinical research workforce, including underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, gender and sexual minorities and those with disabilities.

Proposals must contribute towards CHIPTS scientific theme of addressing the intersection of HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention and mental health and/or substance use co-morbidities. We encourage submissions that specifically address social and structural determinants of health (e.g., housing insecurity, stigma, and racism), resiliency, and protective factors, and the intersection of HIV/AIDS with sexually transmitted infections, substance use and mental health disorder syndemics. HIV-related health outcomes (e.g., HIV testing; PrEP uptake, adherence, continuation; HIV care continuum) should be examined.  Applications that explore the impact of disruptors (such as COVID-19, MPOX) on HIV prevention, substance use, and/or mental health services (e.g., expansion of telehealth, self-testing, etc.) for communities impacted by HIV are also encouraged. Research among underrepresented communities impacted by HIV including racial and ethnic groups, gender, and sexual minorities including trans and those with disabilities

Proposals may budget up to $45,000 in direct costs with total costs not exceeding $56,700. Doctoral students are limited to a budget of up to $15,000 in direct costs with total costs not exceeding $18,900. UCLA’s indirect cost rate must be factored along with the applicant’s institutional indirect cost rate. Projects must be able to be completed within 12 months, and all funds must be spent by December 31, 2024.

Applications are due on Friday, June 30, 2023 by 5:00pm Pacific Time by email to Damilola Jolayemi ( Please use email subject heading: 2023 CHIPTS Mentored Pilot Grant Proposal Submission_LastName.

Download the complete call below:


Questions about the mentored pilot program or assistance in identifying a CHIPTS faculty mentor can be directed to:

Information on CHIPTS faculty mentors can be found on our website:

Program Awardees

“Evaluating gender affirming hormone therapy in relation to anxiety and depression symptoms among trans women living with HIV in Lima, Peru

Tijana Temelkovska, with mentor Drs. Jesse Clark, Cherie Blair, Jordan Lake (UT Houston)


“Evaluating the relationship between resilience and health well-being among young Kenyans living with HIV in urban informal settlements”
Yan Wang, with mentor Drs. Pamina Gorbach, Damaze Kadengye (Kenya), Sylvia Kiwuwa-Muyingo (DME)


“Identifying Men at Risk of HIV Treatment Interruption due to Mobility, Depression, and Alcohol Use in Malawi

Marguerite Thorp, with mentor Dr. Kate Dovel, Steven Shoptaw

“Mobile Enhanced Prevention Support: App Design for People Leaving Jail

Gabriel Edwards, with mentor Drs. Chunqing Lin, Nina Harawa


“A Randomized Controlled Trial of an Intervention to Improve Coping with Discrimination, Address Medical Mistrust, and Reduce Health Disparities among Black Sexual Minority Men”
Khadesia Howell, with mentor Dr. Laura Bogart

This project aims to increase effective coping responses to intersectional stigma and discrimination, and reduce medical mistrust among Black SMM, with the goal of improving healthcare engagemenand receipt of evidence-based preventive care.


“Association of combined antiretroviral therapy with altered brain function and cognition dysfunction in people with HIV

Aliaa Ibnidris, with mentor Dr. Steven Shoptaw


“Evaluating the relationship between hazardous alcohol use, intimate partner violence and biomedical prevention of HIV (PrEP/ART) in pregnant and breastfeeding women in Cape Town, South Africa

Amanda Miller, with mentor Dr. Dvora Davey

“Violence experiences are associated with HIV transmission risk over one year among a prospective sample of sexual minority adolescents in the United States”
Joshua A. Rusow, with mentor Dr. Cathy Reback

This study examines HIV-risk sexual activities (sex without condoms, sex while feeling the effects of substances, or sex without discussing the partner(s)’ HIV status) among sexual minority adolescents (ages 14 to 17 at baseline) in the United States. In this longitudinal study, we use baseline levels of self-reported demographics (age, sex, sexual identity, and race), mental health symptomology (depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress), minority stress, and interpersonal violence experiences to look at reports of each of three HIV-risk sexual activities over the following year. Several demographic differences were identified, and each additional interpersonal violence experience reported at baseline (maximum of 4) increased the odds of reporting HIV transmission risk over the next year by 40 to 59%.

“Impact of methamphetamine use, HIV, and rectal gonorrhea/chlamydia on systemic and mucosal inflammation”
Cherie Blair, with mentor Drs. Steve Shoptaw and Jesse Clark

This project seeks to identify the independent and combined effects of methamphetamine use, HIV, and rectal gonorrhea/chlamydia on systemic and rectal mucosal inflammation. Preliminary findings from this CHIPTS Mentored Pilot Grant project will be discussed.

“Impact of Resilience, Social Support, and Healthcare Empowerment on HIV Care Engagement and Viral Suppression among Young Black Sexual Minority Men with HIV in the US South: Overcoming Social and Structural Barriers”

Erik Storholm, with mentor Dr. Cathy Reback

Informed by Minority Stress Theory and Syndemic Theory, this exploratory analysis of data from a community cohort of (N=224) YBSMM+ in the US south sought to shed light on the impact of socioeconomic distress, intimate partner violence, depressive symptoms, HIV related social support, resilience, and healthcare empowerment HIV care continuum engagement. Findings suggest that interventions that focus on improving HIV care continuum engagement are likely to have success if they focus on increasing levels of healthcare empowerment, sources of resilience and HIV-related social support.

“An exploration of primary care providers’ implicit bias against substance using MSM and its impact on clinical decision making for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis”
Alex Dubov, with mentor Dr. Steve Shoptaw

The study proposes to test whether or not primary care physicians have implicit biases against MSM with substance use disorders and whether the magnitude of such biases affect their hypothetical willingness to recommend PrEP for this priority population. The aims are to measure implicit and explicit biases against people who use drugs (PWUD) among a sample of 200 primary care providers. Implicit bias will be measured using the Implicit Association Test which will be embedded in the online survey together with the explicit bias self-report measures. The other aim is to explore providers’ clinical decision making around PrEP, including their assessment of PWUD patients’ HIV risk without PrEP, candidacy for PrEP, and expectations for patients’ behavior with PrEP use (e.g., risk compensation, adherence).

“Developing a community informed psychosocial intervention for women who inject drugs in Mexicali, Mexico”
David Goodman-Meza, with mentor Dr. Steve Shoptaw

The primary purpose of this study is to collect data informing the development of a novel psychosocial intervention to reduce HIV injection risks for women who inject drugs, that can be implemented in a community based harm reduction context during the shifting landscape of drug availability. The aims are to develop a brief, evidence-based, psychosocial intervention approach to address mental health and HIV risk behavior in women who inject drugs in Mexicali, Mexico, and to evaluate women’s mental health constructs in the presence and absence of fentanyl use.

Health disparities persist among Latinx communities, especially among transgender women (TGW)”
Joanna Barreras, MSW, with mentor Dr. Laura Bogart

This study aims to develop an intervention focusing on empowering LTGW to report crimes and get connected to the care they need through community-based participatory research methods with the longer-term goal of improving mental health (e.g., through seeking quality social support) and health behaviors (e.g., decreased risk behaviors such as substance use), which can contribute to greater overall health-related quality of life.

“Understanding Generational Differences in Mental Health and Substance Use Correlates of HIV Screening and Prevention Using a Nationally Representative Sample of Men Who Have Sex with Men”
Evan Krueger, with mentors Drs. Ian Holloway and Ilan Meyer

This study aims to examine whether, and how, indicators of mental health are associated with recent HIV screening and familiarity, attitudes and uptake of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP); to examine whether, and how, indicators of substance use/abuse are associated with recent HIV screening and familiarity, attitudes, and uptake of PrEP; and to evaluate modifiable interpersonal and contextual risk and protective factors unique to MSM that contribute to mental health, substance use, and HIV risk behavior by age cohort.

“Optimizing Methamphetamine Outpatient Treatment through the Application of an Evidence-Based Depression Intervention”
Jesse Fletcher, with mentor Dr. Cathy Reback

This study will implement an innovative intervention which leverages recent insights on the links between methamphetamine use, mental health disorder, and HIV transmission among men who have sex with men in Los Angeles County. An evidence-based SAMHSA depression intervention, Space from Depression, will be combined with Getting Off (a manualized outpatient methamphetamine treatment program for gay and bisexual MSM) to reduce the pernicious link between methamphetamine use and HIV transmission among MSM.

“HIV Positive African American Women in Urban Communities: Compounding Mental Health Challenges related to Adherence within the Context of Poverty”
Dr. Latoya Small, with mentors Drs. Arleen Leibowitz and Ian Holloway

This study aims to examine compounding mental health and socioeconomic stressors on treatment adherence to investigate the unique needs of poverty-impacted African American women living with HIV in Los Angeles. This mixed methods study will explore the lived experiences of African American women living with HIV in an urban setting and examine the intersection of trauma, depression, stigma, HIV medication adherence, and treatment engagement for poverty-impact African American women in Los Angeles.

“Impact of Methamphetamine use and HIV infection on Cardiovascular Risk”
Dr. Janine Trevillyan, with mentors Drs. Currier & Shoptaw

This project aims to determine differences in plasma biomarkers of cardiovascular and periodontal disease in individuals with and without HIV infection, along with the impact of methamphetamine, and thus determine the relative contributions of HIV and methamphetamine to cardiovascular risk. Specifically, this study will examine the difference in plasma biomarkers of cardiovascular disease between HIV negative and positive individuals who are non-users or heavy users of methamphetamine from the mStudy cohort samples. The research will also estimate the severity of periodontal disease via plasma levels of antibodies against periodontal pathogens in HIV negative and positive individuals who are non-users or heavy users of methamphetamine and determine the correlation between antibody levels and biomarkers of cardiovascular risk.

“Integrated Psychoactive Substance Use and Mental Health Service for Men Who Have Sex with Men in China”
Dr. Chunqing Lin, with mentor Dr. Li Li

This study will identify the barriers to provision and utilization of psychoactive substance use and mental health-related screening, referral, and treatment services for MSM in Guangdong Province, in southern China. Additionally, the research will investigate the mental health and substance use-related clinical needs and service utilization patterns among MSM and devise strategies to provide integrated mental health and psychoactive substance use prevention, diagnosis and care, with special consideration of incorporating existing evidence-based screening and intervention tools into the current healthcare system, particularly in primary care settings.

“Changes in the microbiome due to HIV infection: What do substance use and obesity have to do with it?”
Dr. Ryan Cook (Doctoral Student), with mentor Dr. Gorbach

This study will examine the role of obesity and substance use in HIV-associated immune dysregulation (dysbiosis) via biomarker analyses of mStudy cohort samples. Approximately half of the mStudy cohort of young, minority men who have sex with men is HIV-infected, substance-using, and overweight.

“Improving Outcomes for HIV+ Youth in Uganda.”
Dr. Jeanne Miranda and Dr. Joan Asarnow

This study combines a depression and HIV care intervention for HIV+ Ugandan youth with depression. This pilot culturally adapts an evidence-based, lay health worker-led depression intervention and combines it with an evidence-based HIV care intervention. This pilot study will provide information on feasibility and acceptability of the intervention.

“Linkea tu vida (Link your Life): Linkage to and retention in HIV care for PLHIV from key populations in Peru.”
Dr. Angela Bayer and Hugo Sánchez

This intervention aims to adapt, refine, implement and test the initial efficacy of an innovative combination intervention that will employ 1) streamlined linkage into HIV care and 2) short message service (SMS) reminders for care appointments, tracking of PLHIV who miss appointments and informational and motivational messages. The primary outcomes of Linkea tu vida are linkage to HIV care within 1 month and retention in HIV care at 6 months.

“Testing an Educational Visual Aid to Increase Knowledge and Adherence to Antiretroviral Therapy.”
Dr. Joan Christodoulou and Dr. Susan Ellen Lewis Abdalian

This pilot project aims to examine the effectiveness of a simple, visual and interactive demonstration with youth living with HIV. Half of the youth in each cohort will receive either: 1) Standard Care and a demonstration of the Adapted Petrie Device or 2) Standard Care. The goals of this project are to increase knowledge about how antiretroviral medication works in the body and to increase adherence to antiretroviral medication.

“Predictive Analytics to Identify HIV Cases in MediCal/Medicare Claims Data.”
Dr. Warren Scott Comulada

In the absence of a single indicator of HIV positive serostatus, a number of ad hoc algorithms have emerged in order to identify PLH in Medicaid and Medicare claims data that use HIV specific diagnosis codes and related treatment indicators. This study used machine learning tools to improve upon existing HIV-identification algorithms by using diagnosis codes and other variables that are present across four years of Medicaid (Medi-Cal) and Medicare claims data in a subset of the claims data from Californians. The goals of this project were to: 1) To use machine learning tools to develop a predictive algorithm for HIV positive or negative serostatus using Medicaid and Medicare claims data; and 2) to develop guidelines for using our predictive algorithms based on the amount of claims data that is available and the level of certainty that can be expected in predicting HIV positive serostatus.

“PAREDES: A Partner-Based Approach to HIV/STI Case Detection for Latino MSM.”
Dr. Jesse Lawton Clark

The purpose of this pilot study was to explore the cognitive processes, interpersonal interactions, and partnership/network structures guiding partner notification attitudes, beliefs, and practices among Latino MSM in Los Angeles. This pilot assessment of a comprehensive partner notification instrument aimed to address the complex intersection of partners (parejas), networks (redes), and barriers (walls or paredes), or PAREDES, that define partner notification and treatment among Latino MSM.

“Cost-Effectiveness of a Financial Incentive Program to Reduce HIV/STIs in MSM.”
Dr. Laura Jane Anderson

This study investigated the effectiveness and cost-implications of a monetary incentive-based program targeting HIV and STI testing and treatment among high-risk men who have sex with men (MSM) at a community-based clinic in Los Angeles. Specifically, this project evaluated the clinical and behavioral impact of a monetary incentive-based STI and HIV testing program to reduce HIV/STI positively an increase testing among MSM. Additionally, this study evaluated the cost effectiveness of a monetary incentive-based program to reduce HIV/STI positivity and increase testing among MSM.

“Adapting and Evaluating an HIV Intervention for Delivery via Mobile Phones.”
Dr. Tiffany Monique Montgomery and Deborah Koniak-Griffin

The objective of this study is to adapt and implement a text message version of Sister to Sister, an evidence-based high-risk sexual behavior intervention, for use among young adult Black women. In the first phase of this pilot study, a research advisory board composed of eight young adult Black women reviewed the original Sister to Sister curriculum and created text messages to be delivered via mobile phone. An evaluation of the acceptability, feasibility and outcomes of the S2S was conducted in the second phase.

“Role of Race and Discrimination in Adherence to HIV Care Among African Americans.”
Dr. Shu Farmer, Dr. Risa Hoffman, Dr. Deborah Mindry, and Dr. Glenn Wagner

This study examined how racism and discrimination influence health decision-making behaviors and antiretroviral adherence in HIV-infected African Americans. The aims of this study were to describe the role of perceived racism and discrimination among HIV-infected African Americans with regard to their experiences with engagement in HIV care and to explore the role of perceived racism and discrimination with regard to non-adherence to ART among HIV-infected African Americans’ with viral loads > 200 copies/ml twice in the last year or 2 or more missed clinic appointments in the last year. The purpose of this study was to better understand how fear of stigma acts as a barrier to HIV testing, engagement in care, and treatment adherence among African Americans.