External Scientific Advisory Board
The External Scientific Advisory Board, reviews and identifies potential gaps in the Center for AIDS Prevention (CAPS) research portfolio, provides objective advice about CAPS scientific and strategic directions, and makes recommendations that inform strategic planning. Recommendations and concerns raised by the Community Advisory Board are channeled to the External Scientific Advisory Board convened by the Administrative Core.
Monica Ruiz, Ph.D., MPH, Chair of the Board. Dr. Ruiz's career has focused predominantly on research pertaining to HIV prevention. Prior to joining the George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health, she worked in federal government (DAIDS/NIAID/NIH), international (UNAIDS), public policy (Institute of Medicine/National Academies of Science and amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research) settings. Her current research focuses on examining the epidemic impact of policy change on HIV infection and linkage to care outcomes – including utilization of syringe exchange, addiction treatment, and other harm reduction services -- in the District of Columbia.
She is currently conducting research in partnership with community harm reduction providers to examine the impact of gentrification on drug users’ access to health care and syringe access services, as well as examine the impact that the COVID pandemic has had on drug user health outcomes, including overdose mortality. This work is part of her continued research on the social and structural factors that impede HIV prevention efforts in vulnerable and disenfranchised populations.
Stefan Baral MD, FRCPC, CCFP, MPH, is a physician epidemiologist and a Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health (JHSPH). Stefan completed his certification in Community Medicine as a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and Family medicine with the Canadian Council of Family Physicians. Stefan has also been involved in HIV epidemiology, prevention, and implementation research focused on the epidemiology, human rights contexts, and effective interventions for gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender women, and female sex workers across Western and Central, and Southern Africa and parts of Asia with support from USAID, CDC, NIH, amfAR, and the Global Fund.
In addition, Stefan has led or supported the implementation and evaluation of HIV prevention studies globally characterizing effective combination HIV prevention packages for key populations across multiple low and income countries. Stefan acts as the Director of the Key Populations Program for the Center for Public Health and Human Rights at the JHSPH.
Lisa Bowleg, Ph.D. is Professor of Applied Social Psychology in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at The George Washington University (GW), and Director of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Core of the DC Center for AIDS Research (DC CFAR). She is a leading scholar of the application of intersectionality to social and behavioral science and health equity research, and the Founding Director of two new intersectionality institutes: (1) the Intersectionality Training Institute (www.intersectionalitytraining.org), an independent institute focused on providing training on the application of intersectionality to health equity research, policy, and practice; and (2) the Intersectionality Research Institute at GW.
Informed by critical frameworks such as intersectionality and critical race theory, her mixed methods research examines the effects of social-structural stressors (e.g., unemployment, police brutality, incarceration), intersectional stigma and discrimination, and protective factors (e.g., resilience, religiosity and spirituality, social support) on HIV risk, substance use, and mental and physical health outcomes in diverse Black communities such as heterosexual men, and lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
Thomas J. Coates, Ph.D., is Director of the University of California Global Health Institute, which brings together the 10-campus UC system to solve global health problems and train future leaders. He is Distinguished Research Professor of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine and Director Emeritus of the UCLA Center for World Health. Before coming to UCLA, Dr. Coates spent 21 years at the University of California, San Francisco. He co-founded the UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS) in 1986 and was the Founding Executive Director of the UCSF AIDS Research Institute in 1996. Both continue with extramural and intramural support. San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown declared on July 24, 2003, Dr. Thomas J. Coates Day in San Francisco in honor of his work against HIV. Dr. Coates’ work has focused on HIV testing and community-level prevention interventions.
Dr. Coates’ NIH and foundation-supported research continue to focus on HIV prevention with disadvantaged populations, especially in Malawi and South Africa. His current work focuses on strategies for bringing men into testing and treatment, pre-exposure prophylaxis for pregnant and post-partum women, and strategies to enhance the growth and development of HIV-exposed but uninfected infants. Dr. Coates was elected to the Institute of Medicine (now the National Academy of Medicine) in 2000.
Elvin H. Geng, MD, MPH is Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine and Director of the Center for Dissemination and Implementation at the Institute for Public Health, both at Washington University in St. Louis. He earned MD and MPH degrees from Columbia University and post-doctoral training through the Aaron Diamond AIDS Institute at Rockefeller University (posted to Kunming, China where he worked on HIV testing, treatment, and prevention among people who inject drugs. He also completed a fellowship in infectious diseases at the University of California in San Francisco.
Using the lens of implementation science, Dr. Geng conducts research to advance the use of evidence-based interventions in the public health response to HIV and COVID-19 as well as increasingly for non-communicable diseases as well. He has worked closely with service-delivery organizations in Kenya, Zambia, Uganda, as well as in the US. Dr. Geng has been a member of the World Health Organization’s Guideline Development Group for HIV, and a Commission for Human Resources for Health in Rwanda convened by the National Academies of Science. Dr. Geng is an academic editor at PLOS Medicine, an editorial board member of JAIDS and Journal of the International AIDS Society and as the editor for implementation science at Current HIV/AIDS Reports.
Jessica Haberer, MD, MS, is an internist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Professor at Harvard Medical School. She has been working in global health and studying adherence to antiretroviral medications for the treatment and prevention of HIV infection since the early 2000s. Her research focuses on real-time adherence monitoring and intervention. Current projects are based in Uganda, Kenya, and South Africa.
Marguerita Lightfoot Ph.D. Dr. Lightfoot received her master’s and doctorate in Counseling Psychology from UCLA. Her research focuses on improving the health and well-being of adolescents and young adults, as well as the development of culturally competent, efficacious interventions to reduce the acquisition and transmission of HIV among populations disproportionately burdened by the epidemic. She has obtained NIH funding to design and implement HIV preventive interventions, including culturally-tailored interventions for adolescents in the juvenile justice system, runaway/homeless youth, youth living with HIV, young MSM, and adults living with HIV. Her research has developed interventions and bridged the gap from development to implementation. She has been the Principal Investigator on numerous R01 and other R-level grants, as well as center grants and foundation grants, including from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, William T. Grant Foundation, and others. She has had a distinguished career in community-engaged research, receiving awards for her community partnership efforts.
Dr. Lightfoot currently serves as the Associate Dean for Research. Prior to starting this position in September 2021, she was Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, Chief for the Division of Prevention Science, Director of the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS), Director of the UCSF Prevention Research Center and she held the Walter Gray Endowed Chair. She came to the SPH with extensive experience training and mentoring students, fellows, trainees, and early-career faculty across a number of disciplines. She also currently serves on the National Advisory Mental Health Council (NAMHC), which advises the Director, National Institute of Mental Health, on all policies and activities related to the conduct and support of mental health research, research training, and other programs of the Institute. She was a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (National Academies) Committee on Fostering Healthy Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral (MEB) Development Among Children and Youth. She serves on the editorial boards of American Psychologist and Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology and was recently associate editor for the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.
Gregorio (Greg) Millett MPH is a Vice President at amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, and the Director of amfAR’s Public Policy Office. Mr. Millett, a former senior scientist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also worked as a Senior Policy Advisor in the White House Office of National AIDS Policy where he helped author President Obama’s original National HIV/AIDS Strategy and worked to support the Strategy’s implementation across the federal government. Mr. Millett has published several first-author quantitative research studies in top medical, public health, and policy journals, including JAMA, Lancet, Health Affairs, and AJPH; and his work has helped answer important research questions such as persistent HIV infection disparities among communities of color despite comparable/ less risk behavior. Mr. Millett is a member of several domestic and global scientific committees, and he has worked and published with Dr. Anthony Fauci. In addition, he has been the recipient of scientific profiles in The Washington Post, Scientific American, The Lancet, and other media.
Recently, Mr. Millett’s COVID-19 research provided the first national glimpse of the pandemic’s impact on Black and Latinx communities, and these research findings have been quoted by Members of Congress during Capitol Hill hearings, used as an underpinning for proposed legislation, included in reports by the National Academy of Sciences, and reported widely across domestic and global print and televised media. In 2020, Mr. Millett was the opening plenary speaker for the International AIDS Conference. He is an alumnus of Dartmouth College and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Don Operario Ph.D. MPH. Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University.
Don Operario is a behavioral-social scientist committed to public health equity. His research addresses two interrelated areas. The first research area concerns the lived experiences associated with stigma and social disadvantage among members of minoritized groups (e.g., racial and ethnic minorities, and sexual and gender minorities), with an emphasis on identifying strategies to promote resilience and social change. The second general area involves developing and evaluating theory-based, multi-level interventions to address the synergistic epidemics (“syndemics”) of HIV, mental health, and interpersonal and structural violence.
He has published over 300 research papers/chapters and served as Principal Investigator or co-Investigator on over 35 scientific research grants. His research incorporates multiple methodologies (qualitative inquiry, observational designs, randomized clinical trials, meta-analysis) and prioritizes community engagement and cultural humility.
He conducts research in collaboration with community and academic partners in the United States, China, Kenya, the Philippines, South Africa, and South Korea. He received his undergraduate degree in Psychology at UCLA, graduate training in Social Psychology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and postdoctoral training in Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine at UCSF. Prior to joining Emory, he was a faculty member and researcher at Brown University, Oxford University, and UCSF.
Steve Shoptaw, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist and is the Center Director for CHIPTS. He is a Professor in the UCLA Departments of Family Medicine and Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and Vice-Chair of Research in Family Medicine. Dr. Shoptaw has a portfolio of work that focuses on the treatment of addiction and HIV prevention in the context of addiction in the Western U.S. where stimulant use is the single strongest predictor of HIV transmission.
Dr. Shoptaw is the Protocol Co-Chair for HPTN 094, a 5-city randomized control trial: Integra: A Vanguard Study of Health Service Delivery in a Mobile Health Delivery Unit to Link Persons who Inject Drugs to Integrated Care and Prevention for Addiction, HIV, HCV and Primary Care. As high rates of stimulant and alcohol use link with new infections in his studies, Dr. Shoptaw also is MPI on a 10-year cooperative agreement (U01 DA036267; the MStudy) to establish a cohort of MSM of color to investigate interactions between non-injection use of methamphetamine, cocaine, opiates and binge drinking and HIV transmission dynamics.
Jane M. Simoni, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist, is Professor and Director of Clinical Training in the Department of Psychology at the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle. She directs the UW Behavioral Research Center for HIV (BIRCH) and co-directs the UW/Fred Hutch CFAR, where she also is Associate Director of the Behavioral Science Core and Senior Advisor to the eHealth Scientific Working Group. She is the Chair of the AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) Behavioral Science Subcommittee and the Adolescent Trials Network (ATN) External Scientific Panel and co-chairs the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) HIV/AIDS Network Coordinating Committee’s Behavioral Science Consultative Group. She is a frequent reviewer and occasional Chair for the National Institute of Health (NIH) study sections.
Her research has focused on health disparities and behavioral aspects of chronic illness, especially clinical trials and the promotion of HIV treatment adherence. She has led NIH-funded studies in New York City (R01 MH58986), Seattle (R01 MH58986), the U.S.-Mexico border (R34 MH084674), Beijing (R34 MH074364), Shanghai (R21 HD07414), Haiti (R34 MH112378), and U.S./Kenya (R01 MH121424). She has over 250 publications, and two of her medication adherence promotion strategies (involving peer support and electronic reminders) are included among those with “Good Evidence” in the CDC’s DEBI program for adherence interventions. She has collaborated on research and training awards on HIV, mental health, and substance use in the U.S. as well as China, India, Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa. Her current work examines the acceptability of long-acting antiretroviral treatment and digital technology to enhance intervention impact and dissemination. A recipient of a K24 from the National Institute of Mental Health and other mentoring awards, she actively trains a diverse and interdisciplinary group of students and early career investigators, for whom she has been a primary sponsor on numerous F31, F32, T32, and K awards