Introducing the New International URBAN ARCH Center

We are thrilled to officially introduce the new International Uganda Russia Boston Alcohol Network for Alcohol Research Collaboration on HIV/AIDS (URBAN ARCH) Center, led by Jeffrey Samet (PI); Debbie Cheng (Core Director); Judy Hahn (Project Lead); and Kaku-So-Armah (Project Lead).


Pictured above: Jeffrey Samet, Debbie Cheng, Judy Hahn, and Kaku So-Armah

The central goal of the International URBAN ARCH Center is to examine the role of alcohol use on new tuberculosis (TB) acquisition, occurrence of active TB disease after TB preventive therapy (TPT), and post-TB lung disease among people living with HIV (PLWH). The Center will be comprised of 4 components: Administrative Core, Biostatistics and Data Management (BDM) Core, Uganda Project, and Russia Project. These components will work synergistically to accomplish the following primary objectives:

  1. Examine the role of alcohol use in driving the acquisition of new TB infection and the occurrence of active TB disease after TPT in PLWH in Uganda (Uganda Project led by Judy Hahn);
  2. Determine the relationship between alcohol use and lung disease after treatment for active TB disease among PLWH in Russia (Russia Project led by Kaku So-Armah);
  3. Conduct high quality data management and statistical analyses for HIV/alcohol research (BDM Core led by Debbie Cheng);
  4. Foster multidisciplinary international collaborations to promote innovative and rigorous HIV/alcohol research (Administrative Core led by Jeffrey Samet); and
  5. Provide ongoing training and mentoring to develop junior and mid-career investigators into future leaders in HIV/alcohol research.

    The Uganda Project or the TB Risk by Alcohol Consumption (TRAC) study will assess alcohol use, confounders, and mediators, by self-report and biomarkers among people with new TB infection in Uganda. The TRAC study aims to estimate the risk ratio for high-risk alcohol use versus lower-risk or no alcohol use on acquiring new TB infection among PLWH with prior negative TST results, examine potential mediators of the relationship between level of alcohol use and acquiring new TB infection (including HIV viral suppression, bar attendance, and body mass index [BMI]), and determine the incidence of TB disease among PLWH with prior latent TB infection, who received TPT, by level of alcohol use.


    Pictured above: Judy Hahn, Winnie Muyindike, Nneka Emenyonu, and Gabriel Chamie


    Pictured above: Robin Fatch, Julian Adong, Christine Ngabirano, and Sara Lodi

    The Russia Project or the STudying Problematic Ethanol use To Examine Respiratory dysfunction in HIV and TB (ST. PETER HIV TB) prospective, observational, longitudinal study will examine barriers to and facilitators of alcohol and smoking interventions, knowledge and perceptions about the links between HIV/alcohol/smoking, and TB, and readiness to engage in an intervention to reduce or quit unhealthy alcohol use and smoking. The study aims to determine the relationship between alcohol use and lung disease after TB treatment in PLWH, determine whether hazardous alcohol use is associated with post-TB lung disease, assess whether heavy drinking is associated with post-TB lung disease progression over time, and explore whether smoking modifies the association of heavy drinking and post-TB lung disease.


    Pictured above: Kaku So-Armah, Jeffrey Samet, Karen Jacobson, Dmitry Lioznov, and Evgeny Krupitsky


    Pictured above: Karsten Lunze, Elena Blokhina, Tatiana Yaroslavtseva, Edwin Zvartau, and Sowmya Rao

    Pictured above: Sally Bendiks, Sarah Rossi, and Samuel Mensah

    The International URBAN ARCH Center’s Administrative and Biostatistical & Data Management (BDM) cores will both work to support the TRAC and ST. PETER HIV TB studies.

    The Admin Core aims to promote a collaborative and synergistic approach to research goals; facilitate communication and integration between all Center components; coordinate access to resources, such as the International URBAN ARCH Center data and sample repository; assess progress of projects to maximize scientific impact; encourage the sharing of data with investigators; and develop future leadership of the next generation of HIV/alcohol researchers. The Admin Core will also facilitate the support of the next generation of HIV/alcohol researchers by implementing a training program. This program will offer trainings in HIV, alcohol, and international research related research methods and concepts, support and facilitate trainee grant submissions and analyses/manuscripts, and connect trainees to each other and to senior investigators through networking events, mentor office hours, and Visiting Scholar Research-in-Progress webinar presentations. The program will also work with international partners to enhance local research capacity in Uganda and Russia.


    Pictured above:  Jeffrey Samet, Natalia Gnatienko, and Sarah Koberna

    The BDM Core will work to promote the validity and generalizability of the International URBAN ARCH Center’s scientific findings, and to enhance the scientific understanding alcohol’s impact on the spectrum of TB infection among PLWH. The core will deliver guidance on optimal data collection, harmonization, and processing procedures; provide a secure and centralized data management system to facilitate the collection, storage, and sharing of data; and monitor studies to ensure quality of data. The BDM core will also contribute statistical expertise to the projects; develop statistical analysis plans and conduct analyses, including the exploration and application of advanced, innovative methods for alcohol/HIV/TB research to address study aims; aid in theinterpretation of results and preparation of publications; and provide statistical training to junior faculty and fellows working on alcohol/HIV/TB research.


    Pictured above: Debbie Cheng, Sara Lodi, Michael Winter, and Sowmya Rao 


    Pictured above: Gregory Patts, Lindsey Rateau, and Ahmad Yassine


    From the PIs, Project Leads, and Core Directors: “What are you most looking forward to with regards to the International URBAN ARCH Center?”

    Dr. Jeffrey Samet: “Answering questions about tuberculosis that amazingly have not been answered to date.”

    Dr. Debbie Cheng: “I’m excited to address new questions in the alcohol/HIV/TB realm and for the renewed opportunity to work with our wonderful team of investigators in Russia, Uganda, and the US!”

    Dr. Kaku So-Armah: “I am excited about opportunities this grant provides. These include opportunities to 1) extend our understanding of modifiable risk factors (particularly alcohol) of lung injury in people with HIV treated for TB, 2) explore TB treatment in people with HIV as an opportunity to provide addiction care, and 3) provide research opportunities that span molecular biology to in-depth interviews to diverse scientists interested in HIV, TB, and substance use.”

    Dr. Judy Hahn: “I am looking forward to continuing my collaborations with such an excellent international team of experts in HIV, TB, and alcohol use. I am also thrilled to be able to build on our years of work to be able to pin down key answers to questions about how alcohol use affects TB infection and disease in PLWH.”