Core and Cohort Updates

Core and Cohort Updates

Admin Core

symposium 1

l-r: Kaku So-Armah, Oghenowede Eyawo, Bob Cook, Theresa Kim, Jeffrey Samet, and Kendall Bryant presenting at the RSA CHAART symposium

In June, members of the Admin Core Jeffrey Samet, Natalia Gnatienko, and Julia Canfield attended this year’s Research Society on Alcoholism Scientific Meeting in Denver, Colorado. The CHAART symposium, entitled “Use of biomarkers to advance alcohol and HIV research“ was chaired by Drs. Jeffrey Samet and Kendall Bryant and included Drs. Kaku So-Armah (Russia ARCH) and Theresa Kim (Boston ARCH) who presented on their respective research; the symposium was well attended and received. The RSA meeting also provided a great opportunity to connect with colleagues and learn about new discoveries in the field, with CHAART members who attended the conference having a group dinner.

The Admin Core has been busy this summer working on IRB updates and repository requests.  Carly Bridden and Julia Canfield submitted an amendment for the URBAN ARCH repository IRB to include allowance of the transfer of repository data or samples to 3rd parties under a Material Transfer Agreement. The IRB amendment also added ADEPTT, the 4F Study, St PETER HIV, and LINC to the repository as well as the collection and storage of hair samples from the ADEPTT study. The Admin Core team has also been working on several sample repository requests for Russia ARCH and Boston ARCH. Carly Bridden, Natalia Gnatienko, Ve Truong, Julia Canfield, and Sally Bendiks worked on pulling and shipping approximately 2,000 Russia ARCH serum and plasma samples for testing at the University of Vermont. Tests for this batch of samples includes D-dimer, IL-6, sCD14, and LPS.

repository and natalie's lunch combined

l-r: Natalia Gnatienko, Ve Truong, Julia Canfield, and Sally Bendiks work in the URBAN ARCH repository, pulling nearly 2,000 Russia ARCH samples for testing; Julia Canfield, Krissy King, Natalia Gnatienko, Casy Calver, Natalie Foster, Carly Bridden, and Christine Capozzi at a goodbye lunch for Natalie

Finally, the Admin Core would like to bid farewell to Natalie Foster, who has been working with this core since the spring of 2016. Natalie will be traveling to Uganda for a few weeks to volunteer with HIV education efforts and pursuing her career in public health since graduating in May from Boston University with her MPH. Good luck, Natalie!

BDM Core

The BDM Core has helped with the recent launch of both the St PETER and ADEPTT studies and is currently helping prepare the start of the 4F Study.  We have also been active in the development of several recent abstracts submitted by URBAN ARCH investigators and preparation for the fall DSMB meeting.

bdm sept 2017

l-r: Debbie Cheng, Tim Hereen, Greg Patts, Leah Forman, Chris Lloyd-Travaglini, and Michael Winter at a BDM Core meeting

Uganda Cohort

l-r; Adah, Robert, Nneka and daughter, Carol, Benton, and Allen at the color run at Mbarara University.

Uganda ARCH has just completed a great first year with the ADEPTT study. Our fabulous team has done a great job this year and we are entering year two with the same level of enthusiasm as we’ve had from the start. The project director, Nneka Emenyonu, spent the months of June and July in Uganda overseeing participant enrollment and continuing training with the ADEPTT team in Mbarara. The trip ended with the ADEPTT team participating in a color run to raise awareness for pediatric cancer at Mbarara University.

Despite our initial challenges with enrollment due to unexpected low rates of latent TB in our screened participants, we have enrolled 31 participants to date out of the 40 targeted for year 1. As of September 1, 2017 we have screened a total of 171 participants and enrolled 31 participants into the study. Of the 145 Participants screened for latent TB, 33 were positive. We will be retesting 21 participants included in the 145 who were tested using purified protein derivative (PPD) with questionable quality. We’ve completed baseline procedures for all 31 participants, 26 two-week follow up study visits, 21 one-month visits, 21 month 2 visits, 4 three-month visits. One participant has discontinued TB preventive therapy (INH) due to grade 3 level toxicities that occurred around the second month of therapy. We will continue to enroll participants from our previous ADEPT cohort for the next quarter.


Sarah Woolf-King presented a poster at RSA examining the concordance between three methods of alcohol use measurement with a sample of HIV+ MSM: (1) retrospectively, via daily self-reports from the Time Line Follow-Back (TLFB), (2) prospectively via daily self-reports from Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology, and (3) via PEth. Overall, 67% of the men reported heavy alcohol via the TLFB, 68% via IVR, and 47% via PEth.

judy poster

Dr. Judy Hahn presenting a poster at RSA showing very high validity of her favorite alcohol biomarker, PEth. She found that PEth was highly correlated with the number of drinking episodes recorded on a SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring) ankle bracelet worn by 38 low-risk drinkers in a UCSF study.

Russia Cohort and ZINC RCT

In July of 2017, we successfully launched the St PETER trial (RCT of varenicline, cytisine, and NRT to address alcohol use and smoking in HIV-infected in St. Petersburg, Russia) and as of September 1st, St PETER has enrolled 21 participants.

In August, we sent out the remaining Russia ARCH and ZINC samples to the University of Vermont Laboratory for Clinical Biochemistry Research for biomarker testing. Upon receipt of the results, we can complete Russia ARCH and ZINC RCT analyses.

Congratulations to ZINC RCT and St PETER, Principal Investigator, Matthew Freiberg on receiving funding for the ACME study. This U01 will leverage St PETER resources to examine whether heavier alcohol use increases changes in the gut microbiome.

The team said farewell to Dr. Bulat Idrisov, who returned to Russia in September 2017. Dr. Idrisov will continue collaborating with the team on studies and analyses.

The team is actively pursuing data analyses, abstract submissions and manuscript preparation.

natalia poster and bulat combined

l-r: Natalia presenting on URBAN ARCH data at the 2017 RSA Scientific Meeting in Denver, CO; Dr. Bulat Idrisov and Dr. Jeffrey Samet with Dr. Idrisov’s Certificate of Completion for his NIDA INVEST Fellowship

Published Manuscripts:

Boston Cohort

Over the summer months, the Boston ARCH Team made progress on the continuation of our cohort study, “Alcohol and HIV-associated comorbidity and complications: Frailty, Functional impairment, Falls, and Fractures” (the 4F study). We expanded our team, held regular meetings, finalized several data collection tools, developed an online tracking system, met with potential research collaborators, and participated in addiction-related events.

The Boston ARCH team’s new Research Assistant, Jasmin Choi, MSW.

To augment our efforts, we hired Jasmin Choi, MSW as a Research Assistant. Her research experience and work with vulnerable populations in Los Angeles and Boston make her well-suited for this position.

The co-investigators, research staff, and data analysts met weekly to discuss administrative updates, finalize screening and baseline assessment tools, and meet with students and junior faculty interested in research collaboration. The research staff and data analysts also met bi-weekly to work on the online participant tracking system and RedCap data collection forms for adverse events, lab samples, and other study needs. To promote harmonization across cohorts, several team members also attended the URBAN ARCH steering committee meeting in August.

Theresa Kim, Co-Investigator of the 4F study, authored a paper entitled “Polypharmacy and risk of non-fatal overdose for patients with HIV infection and substance dependence” that was accepted for publication by the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. Alexander Walley (Co-Investigator), Tim Heeren (Biostatistician), Alicia Ventura (former Project Manager), and Richard Saitz (Principal Investigator) were all co-authors.

As Vice-President of the International Society of Addiction Journal Editors (ISAJE), Dr. Saitz welcomed his ISAJE colleagues to Boston Medical Center in July for their annual meeting, hosted by Boston University School of Public Health. ISAJE is comprised of editors and staff that represent half of all peer-reviewed journals publishing articles on alcohol, tobacco, drugs, gambling, and other behavioral addictions. More information on the meeting can be found here.

Drs. Katherine Calver and Richard Saitz (far right) at the 2017 meeting for the International Society of Addiction Journal Editors (ISAJE), hosted by Boston University School of Public Health