Researcher studying BC’s HIV epidemic wins Scholar Award

Human and Social Development

Stock HIV photo.

A University of Victoria researcher studying the epidemic of HIV and sexually transmitted infection in BC among men who have sex with men is one of 20 health researchers in the province selected by the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research for a 2017 Scholar Award.

Nathan Lachowsky, from UVic’s School of Public Health and Social Policy, will use his award to study the current epidemic of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections in Metro Vancouver and elsewhere in BC.

New HIV diagnoses are 71 times higher among men who have sex with men compared to the general population. Lachowsky’s research will study risk behaviours, shifting attitudes toward HIV, treatment challenges and changes in sexual negotiation and practices.

The foundation’s annual Scholar Awards are intended to support early-career researchers as they establish their research strengths, form their own research teams and develop programs advancing state-of-the-art health solutions.

Lachowsky’s research will inform public health policy and interventions aimed at reducing the incidence of HIV among this population. His work is part of a larger national research program examining health disparities among men who have sex with men.

Another researcher with the UBC Island Medical program, located at UVic, was chosen for a Research Trainee award for his work in the area of Fragile X Syndrome, the most common form of inherited intellectual disability. Luis Bettio is exploring the role of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in Fragile X Syndrome, investigating how changes in expression of BDNF may affect brain defects related to the syndrome.

The Research Trainee awards support health researchers in the training phase of their research careers. Bettio’s research is expected to make a significant contribution toward future development of BDNF-related therapeutic strategies in the treatment of Fragile X Syndrome.

“These are our flagship funding opportunities,” says Bev Holmes, foundation interim president and CEO of the foundation’s two awards programs. Awards have been granted to 53 BC researchers this year. Holmes notes that the programs are “the foundation for attracting, nurturing and retaining the outstanding researchers needed to support the advancement of world-class health research in BC.”

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Keywords: health, hiv, public health and social policy, disease

People: Nathan Lachowsky, Michael Smith

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