|Orlando, FL – The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) Bureau of HIV/AIDS, The AIDS Institute, and partners from the University of Miami have formed the Florida Consortium for HIV Research (FCHR). An inaugural planning forum was convened on February 24 at the Orange County Health Department in Orlando. Present at the all-day meeting were more than 60 HIV researchers and other public health personnel from across Florida. The consortium comprises members from seven universities, the state laboratory, the Bureau of HIV/AIDS, the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute, county health department staff, and other researchers throughout the state. “We believe the FCHR may be the largest HIV-related research group to coalesce around common interests for the sake of expanding inter-institutional collaboration and attracting new research resources to the state for the benefit of our patients,” said Jeffrey Beal, M.D., Medical Director of the FDOH Bureau of HIV/AIDS and one of the prime movers of the initiative. “Our collaborations address primary and secondary HIV prevention and patient outcomes through behavioral studies, clinical studies, and basic science research,” Beal continued.
FCHR researchers have contributed findings of public health significance to the body of knowledge through recently completed and ongoing HIV/AIDS studies. Collectively, consortium members account for more than 280 HIV-related studies of practical and scientific interest, as reflected in a research inventory compiled and distributed by the group.
The FCHR seeks to promote studies among partners that will lead to decreased HIV incidence and improved health and survival for patients. “These are ambitious but achievable goals,” said Margaret Fischl, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Director, AIDSClinical Research Unit at the University of Miami. As another co-founder of the group, she added, “In combining the talents and unique experience of expert scientists in Florida the FCHR could eventually help bring us closer to a vaccine and a cure.” A core of members is represented on a steering committee charged with formulating next steps, holding periodic conference calls with members and other interested parties, and acting as a clearinghouse for funding opportunities among partners.
“In this economic environment, it makes sense for the research community to work together toward a common goal and to share data, resources and talent within Florida,” said Michael Ruppal, Executive Director of The AIDS Institute. “We are proud to join this amazing group of researchers who are committed to ensuring that Florida continues to be on the cutting edge of HIV research.”
Researchers interested in joining the FCHR and those wanting more information about the group can contact Michael Ruppal, Executive Director of the AIDS Institute, atMRuppal@TheAIDSInstitute.org.
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The AIDS Institute is a national nonprofit organization that promotes action for social changethrough public policy research, advocacy and education.