January 6, 2021

Mentoring and research to prepare oral PrEP delivery platforms for novel HIV prevention products

Dr. Renee Heffron

Career mentoring funding has been awarded to Dr. Renee Heffron by the National Institutes of Health for "Mentoring and research to prepare oral PrEP delivery platforms for novel HIV prevention products."



This is a career mentoring award to support the PI, Dr. Renee Heffron, Associate Professor at the University of Washington, with protected time to create a more structured approach for her mentoring and to increase her mentees by 50%. Mentees will be among the next generation of researchers focused on HIV prevention, oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and novel PrEP products. Dr. Heffron, PhD, MPH is a clinical epidemiologist with advanced training in implementation science, behavioral science, and qualitative research. She has already mentored 20 pre- and postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty and she proposes to mentor an additional >18 mentees to publish manuscripts and successfully compete for independent research funding, with a particular focus on mentoring women and people from underrepresented groups (URG).

Mentoring aims are to:

  1. Support and grow the next generation of US- and Africa-based leaders conducting patient-oriented research focused on delivery of oral PrEP and novel PrEP products through the provision of structured mentoring to a total of >18 pre-doctoral students (MPH and PhD), postdoctoral fellows, junior faculty, and other junior investigators, including subsets who are female and identify as being from URG.
  2. Establish and refine a structured mentoring program within the International Clinical Research Center, my research home within the UW Department of Global Health.

Dr. Heffron’s mentoring style is grounded in the Social Cognitive Career Theory and includes emphasis on developing mentee’s science identify. Her current approach to mentoring incorporates annual deliverables for each type of mentee with individual tailoring. Mentees will work alongside Dr. Heffron on the newly proposed research in the K24 in the realm of implementation science as well as on her 3 ongoing NIMH and NICHD R01-funded studies in Uganda, Kenya, and South Africa. Newly proposed research provides opportunity for Dr. Heffron to grow her repertoire of work in implementation science, in order to identify best
practices to integrate novel PrEP products into existing platforms for oral PrEP delivery by conducting 60 key informant qualitative interviews with experts developing novel PrEP products and implementing oral PrEP delivery in sub-Saharan Africa and end users who discontinued use of oral PrEP. A discrete choice experiment will be conducted with young women in Uganda ≥16 years of age to identify their preferences for different attributes of HIV prevention counseling and whether counseling scenarios would facilitate uptake of a PrEP product.

Sponsor Award Number: 1K24MH123371-01A1