UAlbany School of Public Health, SUNY Downstate, and Partnership for Research and Action for Health Receive $1.5 Million to Combat Georgian HIV Epidemic

Mark Kuniholm and John Justino stand on a bridge in Georgia. Behind them is a river and mountains dotted with houses.

ALBANY, NY (May 14, 2020) - With $1.5 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), faculty from the University at Albany and SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University are collaborating with Partnership for Research and Action for Health, a Georgian non-governmental organization, to deliver a 5-year strategic training initiative to help combat the AIDS epidemic in the country of Georgia.

Located between the Black and Caspian seas, Georgia has a relatively small but growing HIV epidemic. Over the last decade, significant strides have been made in clinical care for HIV/AIDS patients in the country; However, in order to reduce the number of people impacted by the virus, prevention strategies need to be strengthened.

Under the program, scientists from Georgia— including many from the largest university in the country, Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University— will come to New York to receive rigorous training on interventions and strategies to enhance health programs related to HIV/AIDS. Training will include advanced doctoral-level epidemiology coursework at UAlbany’s School of Public Health and a hands-on learning placement at the New York State Department of Health’s AIDS Institute, known for its visionary response to HIV.

“Trainees will focus on research projects that identify challenges of implementation of HIV prevention programs,” says Mark Kuniholm, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and the training program director at the UAlbany School of Public Health. “The research findings obtained through these projects will significantly improve the public health response to HIV/AIDS in Georgia.”

Faculty from UAlbany’s School of Public Health will also travel to Georgia to work with partners to increase teaching and research capacity at Tbilisi State University.

Collaboration with public health professionals in Georgia is nothing new for the UAlbany School of Public Health: for 25 years, faculty have partnered to conduct HIV/AIDS training and research— forming close friendships and sharing important knowledge to improve the health of communities. The funding for the current 5-year collaboration began in April 2020.

“We are particularly proud of the fact that our long-time collaborator in Georgia, the Partnership for Research and Action for Health, is the lead implementing partner on this new grant,” says John Justino, Director of the Center for Global Health at UAlbany. “Our role as a supporting partner on their project allows us to continue our long-term collaborations in Georgia, supporting the development of even stronger HIV research and public health leadership capacity in this critically important part of the world.”



About the University at Albany

A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.


About SUNY Downstate

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University is the borough's only academic medical center for health education, research, and patient care. It is a 342-bed facility serving the healthcare needs of New York City, and Brooklyn's 2.6 million residents. University Hospital of Brooklyn (UHB) is Downstate's teaching hospital, backed by the expertise of an outstanding medical school and the research facilities of a world-class academic center. More than 800 physicians, representing 53 specialties and subspecialties—many of them ranked as tops in their fields—comprise Downstate's staff. A regional center for cardiac care, neonatal and high-risk infant services, pediatric dialysis, and transplantation, Downstate also houses a major learning center for children with physical ailments or neurological disorders. In addition to UHB, Downstate comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Health Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative, including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively. For more information, visit SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University or follow us on Twitter at @sunydownstate.