AIDS research and human retroviruses 2017 11 16() doi 10.1089/AID.2017.0093
Most US investigators in the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) have been of majority race/ethnicity and sexual orientation. Research participants, in contrast, have been disproportionately from racial/ethnic minorities and men who have sex with men (MSM), reflecting the US epidemic. We initiated and subsequently evaluated the HPTN Scholars Program that mentors early career investigators from underrepresented minority groups. Scholars were affiliated with the HPTN for 12-18 months, mentored by a senior researcher to analyze HPTN study data. Participation in scientific committees, trainings, protocol teams, and advisory groups was facilitated, followed by evaluative exit surveys. Twenty-six trainees have produced 17 peer-reviewed manuscripts to date. Research topics typically explored health disparities and HIV prevention among Black and Hispanic MSM and at-risk Black women. Most Scholars (81% in the first five cohorts) continued HIV research after program completion. Alumni reported program-related career benefits and subsequent funding successes. Their feedback also suggested that we must improve the Scholars’ abilities to engage new research protocols that are developed within the network. Mentored engagement can nurture the professional development of young researchers from racial/ethnic and sexual minority communities. Minority scientists can benefit from training and mentoring within research consortia, while the network research benefits from perspectives of underrepresented minority scientists.