At the Nexus of Substance Abuse and HIV

UC San Diego Researcher Wins Major Award to Study New Treatments and Preventions —

Dan Werb, PhD, an internationally noted epidemiologist at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, has been named one of four inaugural recipients of the Avenir Award, a prestigious $1.5 million research grant from the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

Binational Police Program in Tijuana Targets HIV Reduction

Effort also aims to improve safety of officers —

Research consistently shows that policing practices, such as confiscating or breaking needles, are key factors in the HIV epidemic among persons who inject drugs. Police officers themselves are also at risk of acquiring HIV or viral hepatitis if they experience needle-stick injuries on the job — a significant source of anxiety and staff turn-over.

A binational team from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission, Mexico Section has launched a new research project aimed at promoting prevention of HIV and other blood-borne infections. The effort is led by Steffanie Strathdee, PhD, professor and director of the UC San Diego Global Health Initiative, Leo Beletsky, JD, MPH, associate professor, and Gudelia Rangel, PhD, deputy general director for migrant health and executive secretary of the Mexico Section of the Mexico-United States Border Health Commission, in partnership with the Tijuana Police Department and Police Academy. The binational team will offer and evaluate Proyecto ESCUDO (Project SHIELD), a police education program designed to align law enforcement and HIV prevention in Tijuana. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Global Public Health Division Video Wins 2nd Prize in Video Challenge Competition for UC Global Health Day

A video made by doctoral candidate Jaime Arredondo and other members of the Division of Global Public Health has won second prize in the Video Challenge Competition for UC Global Health Day.

The video, “The Forgotten: Clinica del Bordo,” takes viewers to the San Diego-Tijuana border, where Arredondo and many other members of the global public health division provide wound care, HIV testing and other basic health services to people who live in the Tijuana River Canal.

Canal Wound Clinic, or Clinica del Bordo, is an outreach effort of UC San Diego’s NIDA-funded Proyecto el Cuete IV program, Impact of Drug Policy Reform on the HIV Risk Environment Among IDUs in Tijuana.

“This brief video embodies our division’s philosophy of integrating research, training and service to improve the health of our border community,” said Division of Global Public Health chief Steffanie Strathdee, PhD.

“I am very proud that our work is upheld by our students, as they are our next generation of health providers and prevention scientists.”

Dr. Strathdee is Harold Simon Professor, Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences; Chief, Division of Global Public Health and Director of the UC San Diego Global Health Initiative.

Jaime Arredondo is an AIDS International Training and Research (AITRP) fellow.

The video is here:

Preventing Drug-Abuse-Related HIV in Tijuana by Educating Police

Dr. Steffanie Strathdee

Dr. Steffanie Strathdee

The NIH Record recently highlighted Dr. Steffanie Strathdee, Dr. Leo Beletsky, and their binational team for their efforts to prevent drug abuse-related HIV in Tijuana, Mexico, by changing the knowledge, attitudes and behaviors of the Tijuana police.

With support from the Open Society Institute and the UC San Diego Center for AIDS Research, the pilot phase of the project taught Tijuana police instructors how to prevent needle stick injuries by proper syringe handling, which advises them against breaking needles they apprehend from drug users. The training program is now being adopted by Tijuana’s police academy, whereby the police trainers will be teaching the program to their colleagues.

“We believe this program is the best way to reduce needle sharing among people who inject drugs, which is driven by policing practices,” Strathdee said.

The program will soon be tested in a newly funded grant by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Proyecto ESCUDO (Project Shield): Harmonizing Law Enforcement and HIV Prevention through a Police Education Program.

Steffanie Strathdee, PhD, is Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences and Harold Simon Professor and Chief of the Division of Global Public Health and Director of the Global Health Initiative.

Strathdee co-leads Proyecto ESCUDO with Leo Beletsky, JD, MPH, adjunct assistant professor in the Division of Global Public Health at UC San Diego and assistant professor of law and health sciences at the Northeastern University School of Law.

Steffanie Strathdee Receives National Award of Excellence in Mentorship from National Hispanic Science Network

Steffanie Strathdee, PhD

Dr. Steffanie Strathdee. Image ©International AIDS Society/Marcus Rose/Workers’ Photos. Used with permission.

Steffanie Strathdee, PhD, has received the 2013 National Award of Excellence in Mentorship from the National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse.

Strathdee is Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences, Harold Simon Professor and Chief of the Division of Global Public Health at UC San Diego.

She accepted the award at the NHSN 13th International Conference in Bethesda, Maryland, October 9-11.

“I am deeply honored to be selected for this prestigious award,” Strathdee said. “Hispanics now represent the largest minority population in the U.S., but only about 3% of NIH-funded researchers are Hispanic. My goal is to try to bridge that gap.”

The National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse, established in 2001, teams with the National Institute on Drug Abuse to foster advances in Hispanic drug abuse research. Mentorship is a major component of its work.

Each year, the National Award of Excellence in Mentorship goes to an established research scientist who has made exceptional efforts to help young researchers succeed in peer-reviewed publications and/or grant applications in the area of Hispanic drug abuse.

Dr. Victoria Ojeda Receives UCGHI Junior Faculty Fellowship Award

Dr. Victoria OjedaVictoria Ojeda, MPH, PhD, public health researcher and assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Global Public Health, has received a Junior Faculty Fellowship Program award for 2013-2014 from the University of California Global Health Institute (UCGHI).

The UCGHI Junior Faculty Fellowship Program, funded by a private donor, supports global health investigators in focused, multidisciplinary projects to develop their skills in investigation, training and leadership.

The award will support Ojeda’s ongoing work with deportees in Tijuana, Baja California, funding her project, “Tijuana Business Attitudes Toward Deportees and the Acceptability of an Employment Opportunities Program.”

Ojeda’s related Tijuana study, “Social incorporation following deportation and implications for health status and access to care,” is supported by a UCGHI GloCal Health Fellowship award she received in 2012. The GloCal Fellowship, a one-year mentored research fellowship, is a program of the National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center and a UCGHI consortium.

Ojeda focuses her research on substance use, HIV/AIDS infection, and mental health co-morbidities in migrant populations, including injection drug users and female sex workers. Through a number of studies in Tijuana and elsewhere, she is examining how patterns of population movement, including migration and deportation, affect the transmission of HIV/AIDS and other blood-borne infections in the United States-Mexico border region.

Ojeda earned her MPH and PhD in Community Health Sciences at the School of Public Health at UCLA and completed a NIMH Post-doctoral fellowship in Mental Health Policy at the Department of Health Care Policy at the Harvard Medical School.

She is principal investigator of a five-year, NIDA-funded K01 career development project Mexican Female Migration, Substance Use, Sex work, and HIV Risks in Tijuana (Mujer Migrante). She is a research associate of the UCSD Center for Comparative Immigration Studies and a faculty member in the UCSD-SDSU Joint Doctoral Program in Global Public Health.

More Information:

UC San Diego Researcher Receives $2.5 million Award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse

Davey Smith, MD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the VA San Diego Health System is one of three recipients of the 2012 Avant-Garde Award for HIV/AIDS research. This prestigious award, announced today by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, is intended to stimulate high-impact research that may lead to groundbreaking opportunities for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS in drug abusers. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


David M. Smith, MD, MASDavey M. Smith, MD, MAS, is a physician-scientist specializing in the study of HIV transmission. He directs the Translational Virology Core at the Center for AIDS Research and the Early Intervention Program at the Antiviral Research Center at UCSD.Dr. Smith received his internal medicine residency training, including a year as chief medical resident, and his fellowship training in infectious diseases at UCSD. He earned his Masters of Advanced Studies (MAS) degree in clinical research at UCSD as well.

More about Dr. Smith’s work:

More about the award: