Network Representatives

Each of the NIH-funded HIV/AIDS Clinical Trials Networks select one representative to serve on the BSCG. Learn more about each representative's areas of expertise below.

K. Rivet Amico, Ph.D.

IMPAACT Representative
Associate Professor, Health Behavior & Health Education at University of Michigan

Dr. Amico has actively contributed to the development and implementation of health promoting interventions for over a decade, with specific emphasis on HIV treatment and engagement in care and HIV prevention. In these areas, Dr. Amico has interest and experience in measurement, methodology, design, and analytic strategies used to characterize the influence of social and contextual variables on decision making and behavior. She has collaborated with a number of teams working within and outside of research networks to enhance delivery of adherence support and HIV prevention counseling, promote engagement in HIV care, and strengthen existing site- and team-level capacities to implement best counseling/engagement practices while maintaining fidelity to rigorous research protocols.

Areas of behavioral and social science expertise include:

  • Domestic and International
  • HIV-prevention (counseling and PrEP)
  • Placebo controlled PrEP trials
  • Linkage to care theoretical models, intervention, and measurement approaches
  • Retention in care theoretical models, intervention and measurement approaches
  • Antiretroviral adherence theoretical models, intervention and measurement approaches
  • Protocol and procedures: development, manualization, training and implementation support for multisite trials
  • Research design: Design, measurement and analytic approaches for social behavioral studies and sub-studies

Michele Andrasik, Ph.D.

HVTN Representative
Director, Social & Behavioral Sciences and Community Engagement, HIV Vaccine Trials Network
Senior Staff Scientist, Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division, Fred Hutch
Clinical Assistant Professor, Global Health, University of Washington

Dr. Michele Andrasik works to address psychosocial and structural factors associated with HIV risk and STI disparities among marginalized communities in the US. Dr. Andrasik has a doctoral degree in Clinical Health Psychology from the University of Miami and is an expert in Community-Based Participatory Research and Qualitative methods. She is also Core Faculty in the Fred Hutch/UW Center for AIDS Research Socio-behavioral Prevention Research Core.

Areas of behavioral and social science expertise include:

  • Community Based Participatory Research Approaches
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Behavioral Risk assessment theoretical models and measurement approaches
  • Intimate Partner violence theoretical models, intervention and measurement approaches
  • Cultural Responsiveness/Humility theoretical models and intervention

Ivan Balan, Ph.D.

ACTG Representative
Research Professor, Center for Translational Behavioral Science, Florida State University College of Medicine
Director, Program on Client Centered Research and Care
Chair, Behavioral Science Subcommittee, ACTG

Dr. Balán is a Clinical Psychologist whose work as a clinician and researcher in HIV-related issues spans 25 years. Over the past 10 years, his work has focused on behavioral aspects of biomedical HIV prevention products including HIV self/partner testing and adherence to investigational products such as the dapivarine ring, rectal microbicides, and oral PrEP among MSM and women in domestic and international contexts. The adherence related work was part of trials conducted by the Microbicides Trials Network, for which Dr. Balán developed and implemented evidence-based adherence counseling interventions to support product use and was a part of the behavioral teams that conducted qualitative and quantitative assessments of acceptability and behavioral aspects of product use.

Areas of behavioral and social science expertise include:

  • Assessment of adherence 
  • Triangulation of adherence data
  • Development and implementation of adherence and linkage-to-care interventions
  • Quantitative and qualitative assessment of HIV product acceptability
  • Mental health assessment

Steven Safren, Ph.D.

HPTN Representative
Professor in Psychology and Cooper Fellow , University of Miami (UM)
Director, Center for HIV and Research in Mental Health (CHARM), University of Miami (UM)
Associate Director, Behavioral/Social Sciences and Community Engagement Core, University of Miami (UM) CFAR

Dr. Steven Safren is engaged in a variety of studies related to behavioral aspects of HIV prevention and treatment both domestically and internationally. He has served as a lead behavioral scientists in several network studies including ACTG5175, HPTN052, HPTN063 (protocol chair), and HPTN083. Dr. Safren has successfully designed and tested key evidenced-based adherence interventions both for HIV ART, as well as PrEP, and frequently works at the interface of HIV-related health behavior change and behavioral health.

Areas of behavioral and social science expertise include:

  • Interventions to improve adherence to and engagement in HIV care
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Assessing and decreasing the burden of mental health, substance use, and other syndemics as barriers to self-care
  • Health behavior change for MSM and other populations affected by HIV
  • Behavioral Medicine Interventions for health promotion
  • Assessment of adherence
  • Behavioral science research design in the context of biomedical trials related to HIV treatment and prevention

Ariane van der Straten, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco
Consultant (through ASTRA Consulting), MATRIX R&D Collaborative
Chair, Socio-behavioral and Structural Working Group, HPTN

Dr. van der Straten is an expert in female-initiated HIV-prevention methods. Her research focuses on acceptability and adherence to new biomedical HIV-prevention methods and multipurpose technologies for contraception and HIV prevention. She has led or participated in the development and implementation of major research projects in Africa and the U.S., including clinical trials of diaphragm and gel, vaginal rings, oral, injectable and topical pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Dr. van der Straten has led research studies on end-user acceptability, preference and adherence in the context of PrEP or MPTs. For over seven years, while at RTI International, she also led the development of a biodegradable implant, as an end-user informed long-acting HIV drug delivery platform. She recently joined the USAID funded MATRIX R&D collaborative as a consultant to the Prime (Dr. Sharon Hillier, at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, PA, USA). 

Areas of expertise:

  • Female-initiated HIV-prevention methods
  • Adherence
  • Qualitative methods\mixed method research
  • Product development
  • End user research
  • MPT (multipurpose prevention technologies – specifically HIV and pregnancy prevention)

External Advisors

External advisors to the BSCG provide outside, expert opinion to the NIH-funded HIV/AIDS Clinical Trials Networks on the behavioral components of their research agenda and studies.

Ira B. Wilson, M.D., M.Sc.

BSCG Co-Chair
Professor and Chair, Department of Health Services, Policy and Practice at the Brown University School of Public Health; and Professor, Department of Medicine, Alpert Medical School, Brown University
Professor of Medicine, Alpert Medical School, Brown University

Dr. Wilson’s research interests are in structural elements of health care delivery systems, and how these structural elements affect patients' experience of their care, physician-patient interactions, patients' health outcomes, and healthcare quality. He is particularly interested in methodological aspects of adherence measurement in chronic conditions, including HIV care, and in interventions to improve the quality of prescription medication management. Dr. Wilson is co-chair of the BSCG, and also a practicing primary care physician who has been active in numerous practice-based quality improvement efforts.

Areas of behavioral and social science expertise include:

  • Development and implantation of measures of HIV care quality
  • Development, testing, and implementation of patient self-report measures, including measures of ART adherence
  • Methods related to the description and analysis of physician-patient communication, including but not limited to communication about ART adherence
  • Provider-level behavior change interventions

Mallory Johnson, Ph.D.

Professor of Medicine, School of Medicine, UCSF

Dr. Johnson's primary appointment is in the School of Medicine and holds a joint appointment in the School of Nursing. He is a licensed clinical health psychologist with a research career focused on understanding, measuring, and improving the health of persons at risk for or living with chronic diseases such as HIV. He is also Co-Director of the NIMH-funded Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS) and Co-Director of the UCSF Bay Area Center for AIDS Research (CFAR). 

Areas of behavioral and social science expertise include:

  • Clinical trials of behavioral interventions 
  • Couples research 
  • Behavioral medicine 
  • Mixed methods research 
  • Adherence and engagement in care measurement and intervention 
  • Research with sexual and gender minority populations 
  • Scale development 
  • Mentoring and career development best practices 

Jessica Haberer, M.D., M.S.

Professor, Harvard Medical School
Director of Global Health Research, Massachusetts General Hospital
Internist, Massachusetts General Hospital

Dr. Haberer's research focuses on wireless adherence monitoring and intervention for developing settings, addressing both treatment and pre-exposure prophylaxis against HIV infection. Her current projects are based in Uganda, Kenya, and South Africa.

Areas of behavioral and social science expertise include:

  • Measurement of antiretroviral medication adherence
  • Real-time adherence monitoring and intervention
  • mHealth (mobile health) technology development in resource-limited settings, including SMS and other wireless devices
  • Understanding antiretroviral therapy adherence in pediatric populations
  • Understanding pre-exposure prophylaxis adherence

LaRon Nelson, Ph.D., RN, FNP, FNAP, FNYAM, FAAN

Associate Professor, Nursing, Yale
Independence Foundation Professor, Yale
Associate Dean for Global Affairs and Planetary Health, Yale
Affiliate Scientist, MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions of the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael's Hospital
Research Chair, Ontario HIV Treatment Network

Dr. LaRon Nelson is a public health nurse and family nurse practitioner. His work in research and implementation science spans multiple countries. He co-founded the Central and West Africa Implementation Science Alliance (CAWISA)—a collaboration of implementation scientists and implementing agencies from Cameroon, Congo, Ghana and Nigeria aimed to improve HIV related outcomes among adolescents the region. He is also leading implementation science efforts to reduce racial disparities in HIV incidence, treatment and viral suppression among African, Caribbean, and Black communities in Canada. His work in the US focuses on the use of multi-level (e.g., social/structural, behavioral, and clinical) interventions to reduce HIV infections among Black MSM.

Areas of behavioral and social science expertise include:

  • Self-determination theory (SDT) for HIV prevention and care
  • Implementation and effectiveness of multi-level intervention strategies to reduce race and sexuality-based disparities
  • Interventions to address intersectional stigma at the organizational level
  • Treating traumatic effects of intersectional stigma at the individual-level

Kenneth Ngure, Ph.D., MPH, EMOD, MSc,

Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Community Health, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology
Affiliate Associate Professor, Department of Global Health, University of Washington

Dr. Ngure works on biomedical HIV prevention in sub-Saharan Africa. He contributed to the landmark Partners PrEP Study and the subsequent Partners Demonstration and Partners Scale-up Projects. More recently he has been involved in Dapivirine ring studies. He is currently exploring methods of simplifying PrEP delivery through use of HIV self-testing, pharmacies, peers and integration into existing services.

Areas of behavioral and social science expertise include:

  • Biomedical HIV prevention trials and behavioral studies
  • Qualitative Research
  • HIV self-testing
  • Objective measures of adherence
  • Implementation science