The George R. Seage III Early Career Investigator Award
The George R. Seage III PHACS Early Career Investigator Mentored Research Award supports the development of Early Career Investigators to enter the field of maternal/child, adolescent, or young adult HIV research while advancing the mission of the PHACS network. Read about awardees and their work below.
Ravi Kumar Alluri, PhD
Department of Genomic Medicine
Lerner Research Institute
Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio
Dr. Alluri is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Genomic Medicine, Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute, in Cleveland, Ohio, working under the mentorship of Asha Kallianpur, MD, MPH. He received his PhD degree in Integrative Biology from Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida. Dr. Alluri’s recent research has focused on studying the role of iron dysregulation, as reflected by iron biomarkers, in neurocognitive impairment in adults living with HIV. He will now expand this research to involve children and adolescents living with HIV (CALWH), in whom iron plays a vital role in early brain development, and in whom iron dysregulation may have an even more critical and long-lasting impact on neurocognitive and neurobehavioral outcomes. Under the mentorship of Dr. Kallianpur, he is the recipient of the 2023 George R. Seage, III PHACS Early Career Investigator award. This ECI award aims to uncover novel associations of HIV- and antiretroviral-related changes in iron homeostasis with cognitive and neurobehavioral health outcomes in CALWH. Findings from this study may provide a rationale for new, iron-modulating strategies to prevent or treat these complications in CALWH, with the ultimate goal of improving care for this population.
Megan S. McHenry, MD, MS, FAAP
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Director of Pediatric Global Health Education
Co-Director of the Morris Green Physician Scientist Development Program
Indiana University School of Medicine
Dr. Megan S. McHenry is a pediatrician and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Ryan White Center for Pediatric Infectious Disease and Global Health at Indiana University School of Medicine. Dr. McHenry's research focuses on early childhood development in children living in low-resourced settings. She primarily conducts research in collaboration with the Academic Model for Providing Access to Healthcare (AMPATH) Research Network in Kenya, where she is completing an NIH-funded career development award on neurodevelopment in children affected by HIV. Her passion to improve outcomes for this population has led her to join the PHACS Mental Health, Neurodevelopment, and Neurologic Conditions Working Group, where she developed her Early Career Investigator Award proposal. Her ECI award will focus on understanding the potential relationships among early adversity, inflammation, and cognitive outcomes in young adults living with perinatal HIV infection.
Sahera Dirajlal-Fargo, DO, MS
Case Western Reserve School of Medicine
Dr. Sahera Dirajlal-Fargo is a pediatric infectious disease expert at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital and an assistant professor in pediatrics at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. She has worked with the Baylor Pediatric AIDS Initiative in several African countries and obtained her pediatric infectious disease training at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC. Her research focuses on non-infections complications of HIV in children and youth in the US and sub-Saharan Africa. She is specifically interested in cardio-metabolic complications and the links with inflammation, immune activation and gut integrity.
Her PHACS early career award is exploring the relationship between GI-barrier disruption and microbial translocation (“leaky gut”) and metabolic complications specifically focusing on adiposity in youth living with HIV within PHACS. In this application, we propose to leverage the highly established research infrastructure within PHACS and utilize repository specimens from a large pediatric cohort to study, for the first time in the setting of well-phenotyped youth living with perinatally acquired HIV, the interplay between body composition, intestinal integrity/microbial translocation and metabolic complications. These results will expand our understanding of the pathogenesis and the role of adiposity and may reveal novel pathways which could inform future prevention strategies against cardiometabolic outcomes in these youth.
Stephanie Shiau, PhD, MPH
Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology
Rutgers School of Public Health
Dr. Stephanie Shiau is an Instructor in the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology in the Rutgers School of Public Health. She received a PhD and an MPH in Epidemiology from Columbia University and a BA in Public Health Studies from The Johns Hopkins University. After graduate school, she completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center at Columbia University. Currently, she is a scholar in the UCSD Sustained Training in Aging & HIV Research (STAHR) Program (R25MH108389). Dr. Shiau’s interdisciplinary research program focuses on the effects of HIV and its treatment over the life course, seeking to identify modifiable factors that influence trajectories of HIV-associated non-AIDS (HANA) conditions in children, adolescents, and adults living with HIV and affected by HIV. Her work integrates epidemiologic tools, imaging assessments, and laboratory biomarkers, including assays to measure epigenetic markers.
Dr. Shiau’s PHACS Early Career Investigator Award is focused on studying the influence of maternal inflammatory mechanisms during pregnancy in women living with HIV on growth outcomes in their HIV-exposed uninfected (HEU) infants.
Engi F. Attia, MD, MPH
Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine
University of Washington School of Medicine