Yale University

Project CIRCLE: CIRA International HIV Research Capacity and Collaboration: An Exploratory Study

Funder: National Institute of Mental Health
Project period: 06/03/2019 - 06/02/2020
Grant Type: Research

Abstract Text:

The Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS (CIRA) is an AIDS Prevention Research Center funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and supports innovative, interdisciplinary domestic and international research that focuses on the implementation of HIV prevention and treatment and the elimination of HIV disparities. One of CIRA’s aims is to expand international research in resource-poor settings through development and support of new global research partnerships that emphasize Implementation Science (IS) in high need settings where there are opportunities for collaborative research. During the past five years, CIRA's international research portfolio has expanded significantly, with many projects being conducted countries most affected by HIV and AIDS including South Africa, Uganda, Haiti, China, Indonesia and Ukraine. The growth in our international research builds upon the experience and expertise of CIRA scientists in global HIV/AIDS issues, as well as a center-wide interest in implementation science that is focused on adapting evidence-based interventions developed in the US for implementation in global settings and vice versa, applying global evidence to domestic epidemics.

Through continuous quality improvement systems such as research-in-progress meetings and annual CIRA affiliate surveys that assess and guide CIRA services and initiatives, we identified critical areas that merit further exploration to better support our investigators' research work abroad. These issues include information on funding opportunities, mechanisms for early-career investigators to connect with senior researchers to engage in international research, identifying potential collaborators in specific countries, and consultations on ongoing research including ethical and legal issues concerning international HIV research. In response to this, we are proposing to conduct an assessment of international HIV research capacity and collaboration by engaging CIRA affiliates and their international research partners in a mixed-methods exploratory study. The aims of this study are to: (1) document knowledge gaps, current definitions and practices in facilitating international HIV research collaboration, building global research capacity and supporting emerging researchers; (2) explore perspectives on experiences, facilitators, benefits and challenges on conducting international HIV research, fostering research collaboration, building research capacity and maximizing research impact; and (3) identify strategies to address issues and challenges and create opportunities related to conducting international HIV research. This exploratory study will use mixed-methods strategies to examine literature to identify current definitions and practices, and explore questions related to experiences of CIRA affiliates in conducting international HIV research. Data collection methods include a scoping review of literature, a combination of focus groups and interviews with CIRA researchers and international scholars, a consultative meeting with CIRA leadership, and a web-based survey.

Findings from this exploratory study will be used to inform CIRA services improvement to address barriers relating to international research, support emerging international researchers, design a mechanism to promote synergy among CIRA affiliates to leverage complementary interests and expertise, and contribute to the existing literature on developing, supporting and sustaining international HIV research collaborations and capacity building.