In 1996, Kim Smith, MD, MPH, became one of the first two recipients of the AIDS Clinical Trials Group’s (ACTG’s) Minority HIV Investigator Mentoring Program (MHIMP). Now 17 years later, Smith, as Chair of the Network’s Underrepresented Populations Committee (UPC), will help choose the next pair of MHIMP recipients.
The MHIMP program allows a site within the ACTG Network to offer a mentorship to a junior minority investigator with an interest in studying virology, immunology, pharmacology or another aspect of HIV/AIDS research. The award is granted to two participants through the UPC every year. When accepting the award, the recipient agrees to serve on the UPC as well as an ACTG scientific committee or working group.
The deadline for applications was Friday, March 29, 2013.
Candice McNeil, MD, MPH, is halfway through her MHIMP award at the ACTG’s Stanford CRS. She completed graduate training in Epidemiology at University of Miami, where she received an Award of Academic Merit. McNeil earned her medical degree at Wayne State University School of Medicine and completed a primary care residency in Medicine and Pediatrics in the Yale New Haven Health System. She joined Stanford in 2008 for Infectious Diseases fellowship training, where her research interests include infectious diseases in women, genitourinary human papillomavirus infections and screening for cervical and anal carcinoma in high-risk and HIV infected persons.
“In this difficult funding environment, having support from the MHIMP that allows you to pursue your research interests is priceless,” says McNeil. “The mentorship connections are so helpful as well. Where else can you have access to so many experts to bounce ideas off of?”
McNeil is also grateful that the award has given her protected time to focus on research work and develop new projects within the ACTG. This is a sentiment past MHIMP participant Jose Castillo-Mancilla, MD, echoes.
“People you would be embarrassed to even approach before, I can now email with a new idea,” says Castillo-Mancilla, an investigator at the ACTG’s site at the University of Colorado Hospital CRS.
Originally from Mexico, Castillo-Mancilla knew he wanted to continue further training in the United States. Unfortunately, because of visa limitations, he was not able to get the research opportunities that he wanted right away. Later, he found it difficult to continue down the path he wanted due to a limited background in research.
Luckily, his colleague and later his MHIMP mentor, Thomas Campbell, MD, CRS Leader at the University of Colorado Hospital, recommended that Castillo-Mancilla apply for the MHIMP award.
“The award provided the catalyst for Jose to get involved with ACTG research and develop other research ideas,” says Campbell. “Without this, it would have been much harder.”
“If I had not been awarded the program, none of this would have happened,” adds Castillo-Mancilla. “It validated my efforts to have the ACTG behind me. It allowed me to open up to a world where a lot of doors had been closed in the past.”