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Case Western Reserve University receives federal grant to launch research center on substance use and HIV

The efforts will be dedicated to "deepening understanding of the relationship between substance use and HIV."

CLEVELAND — *Editor's Note: The video in the player above is from a previous report. 

Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) is again expanding its health research efforts. Through a new federal grant, the University plans to launch a research center dedicated to substance use and HIV. 

On Monday, CWRU announced that it received a $16 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health for a "multi-institutional research effort dedicated to deepening understanding of the relationship between substance use and HIV," a press release on the acquisition explained.

Under the moniker, The Case Western Reserve University Center for Excellence on the Impact of Substance Use on HIV, the center will be established at the school of medicine. The research conducted will service as a resources for university scientists, worldwide researchers, as well as the four university-affiliated hospitals in Cleveland.

“This innovative effort to understand the intersection of social determinants of health in the HIV-infected and treated population of individuals who are at risk and have substance use disorder will engage a systems-mapping approach to identify key environmental and social factors that impact substance use and risks for dependency,” said Stan Gerson, dean of the School of Medicine and the Asa and Patricia Shiverick–Jane Shiverick (Tripp) Professor of Hematological Oncology. “This information will uncover optimal interventions to reduce substance use and dependency and improve the overall health of persons with HIV.”

Through the center for Excellence, health and medical professionals will have access to "advanced computer-based, cell biological, genomic and biochemical technologies and fully characterized patient populations."

“This center will investigate the biology, physiology, pathology, and social conditions for people who are carrying the HIV virus and using substances,” said center leader Alan D. Levine, a professor of molecular biology and microbiology, medicine, pediatrics, pathology and pharmacology at the School of Medicine.

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), a sexually transmitted infection that can also be spread by infected blood. By damaging the immune system, HIV interferes with the body's ability to fight infection and disease. There is no cure, but medications can slow the progression.

“More than 30% of people with HIV have multiple substance -use issues,” Levine said, “and it is poorly understood how these substances might combine with the HIV virus to further endanger and damage human health.”

Work on the center’s administrative components is scheduled to begin in December followed by collaboration with the directors of the 10 other Centers for Excellence nationally.

*Editor's Note: The video in the player above is from a previous report.