Resources Offered

The HNRC has established itself as a productive, multidisciplinary endeavor whose organization, resources, and procedures have fostered multi-investigator and multidisciplinary cooperative research.

The HNRC is organized as a set of Scientific Cores and a Developmental Core, and an International Core, with the work of these entities being harmonized by a Coordinating Core. The Scientific Cores were chosen to provide the techniques and resources necessary for the next generation of neuroAIDS research. They include Cores in Neuromedicine, Neurobehavior, Neuroimaging, and Neurobiology, and Neurovirology.

Below is a description of the available HNRC resources.  For additional information or to access resources, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Scientific Cores

1. Neuromedical Core (Ronald J. Ellis, M.D., Ph.D.)

The Neuromedical Core’s Clinical Unit has available techniques for structured neuromedical history taking, neurological and medical assessment and diagnostic algorithms that facilitate establishing diagnoses of central and peripheral neurological complications of HIV, with special emphasis on neurocognitive diagnoses. Investigators may choose to utilize the staff of the Neuromedical Core to perform these structured evaluations, or the Neuromedical Core may train the staff of associated projects to use these validated techniques in a reliable manner.

The Patient-Derived Sample Unit processes, stores, and makes available for future research samples of plasma, PBMCs, CSF, stool and for some studies other fluids and tissues such as urine, CSF cell pellets, and buccal swabs.

The Pharmacology and Biomarker Unit provides the capacity to measure ARV medications, immune mediators, and other biomarkers in CSF and plasma, and will facilitate future pharmacogenomic studies.

Examples of Resources Available:

Examples of Resources Available:

  • Consulting
    • Training and Certification of Physicians, Nurses, Laboratory Personnel
    • Study Design
    • Data Analysis
    • Manuscript Development
  • Pharmacology & Biomarker Data
  • Samples
    • Plasma
    • Serum
    • DNA
    • CSF
    • Stool
  • Clinical Data
    • CDC Classification
    • Clinical Chemistry/Blood Hematology
    • Co-Morbidities
    • Detailed ARV History/Adherence
    • Estimated Duration of HIV Infection
    • Neurologic Diagnosis
    • Opportunistic Infections
    • Viral Loads (HIV, Hep C)

2. Neurobehavioral Core (Robert K. Heaton, Ph.D.)

The Neurobehavioral Core provides standardized neuropsychological assessment as well as diagnosis of psychiatric and substance use disorders. In addition, the Neurobehavioral Core provides expertise in experimental cognitive neuropsychology and assessing "real life implications" of neurocognitive disturbances in medication management, work, automobile driving, and other aspects of activities of daily living. By developing normative standards for neuropsychological tests in understudied populations, the Neurobehavioral Core also facilitates valid interpretation of neuropsychological test results in Hispanic and African-American populations that are at increasing risk for HIV infection. The Core also assists international investigators in developing valid and reliable equivalent measures that are relevant to those settings.

Examples of Resources Available:

  • Consulting
    • Training and Certification Processes
    • Study Design
    • Data Analysis
  • Neuropsychological Data
    • Executive Function
    • Memory (temporal, habitual, prospective)
    • Mood/Behavior
    • NP Characterization (raw, T scores, impairment classification)
    • Psychiatric History/Diagnosis
    • Performance based everyday Function Tests
    • Spatial cognition
    • Substance Use History/Diagnosis
    • Quality of Life
  • Development of Normative Data

3. Neuroimaging Core (Christine Fennema-Notestine, Ph.D.)

The Neuroimaging Core provides state-of-the-art in vivo brain imaging expertise including morphometric analyses, functional imaging methods, and proton and 13c spectroscopy. The Core is involved in methods development including achieving better understanding of imaged abnormalities through co-registration of multi-spectral neuroimaging and detailed histologic analysis, in collaboration with the Neurobiology Core. In addition, this Core provides clinical MR imaging and interpretation when needed to ensure timely identification of CNS opportunistic infections in selected participants.

Examples of Resources Available:

  • Consulting
    • Study Design
    • Domain Expertise - sMRI, MRS, CSI, DTI, SWI, ASL, fMRI, PET
  • Neuroimaging Data
    • Diffusion Tensor Imaging (diffusion anisotrophy)
    • Functional Imaging (fMRI, ASL/Perfusion, PET)
    • MR Spectroscopy (N-acetylasparate, choline, myo-inositol levels)
    • Structural MRI (white/gray matter abnormalities/volume loss)
    • Susceptibility weighted imaging (SWI)

4. Neurobiology Core (Eliezer Masliah, M.D.)

The Neurobiology Core has available a range of state-of-the-art molecular, cellular, and histological techniques and procedures essential to neuroAIDS research. This Core can support investigations into neurodegeneration through analysis of synapto-dendritic complexity, neurogenesis, and analysis of selective neuronal populations and gliosis. The Core also participates in newly developed 3-D reconstruction neuroanatomical techniques involving serial sectioning and imaging of an entire hemi-brain in order to validate abnormal signal found on structural MR imaging (in collaboration with the Neuroimaging Core). With the establishment of an in vitro human brain tissue culture system that includes human primary neuronal cultures, human primary mixed tissue cultures, and human brain aggregates the Neurobiology Core has an enhanced capacity to support mechanistic studies into roles of HIV factors, inflammatory molecules, viral and substance use co-factors, as well as treatments.

Examples of Resources Available:

  • Consulting
    • Neuropathogenesis
    • Toxic vs. Protective Factors
    • Neurogenesis and Implications for Therapeutics
    • Assay Development
    • Research Design
  • Use of Laboratory Facilities for Qualified Researchers

5. Neurovirology Core (Douglas D. RIchman, M.D.)

This Core applies virologic techniques to characterize neurotropism and neurovirulence in the CNS. The Core will identify the genotype of neuroadaptive HIV at varying stages of HIV associated neurological disease and determine the phenotype of this neuroadaptive genotype. The Core also aims to develop methods for investigating viral dynamics and evolution within the CNS, and to provide assistance with studies on viral co-pathogens that may infect the CNS and alter the course of neuroAIDS.

Examples of Resources Available:

  • Consulting
    • Neurovirologic Techniques
    • Virology Training
    • Infrastructure Development
    • Study Design
    • Validation of Methods

Developmental Core (Cristian L. Achim, M.D., Ph.D.)

The Core has two components. The first component is a Developmental Grants Program to encourage investigators, particularly junior investigators, to explore new ideas with the rapid availability of seed grants to a maximum of $18,000 each. The Core is designed to encourage submission of proposals on topics that the HNRC COI determines to be priorities, to perform rapid review involving a combination of internal and external experts, and to mentor and assist the investigator in the implementation of his or her pilot study. Through this close mentoring interaction, every effort is made to assist the investigator to move from a pilot phase to the submission of a more mature research proposal for external funding via peer review. The second component is the Mentored Investigator Program which encourages and monitors trainees affiliated with the HNRC who pursue research in neuroAIDS. Support in the form of access to HNRC resources, small awards to enhance skills building, and regular monitoring of progress will train pre- and postdoctoral fellows.

For more information on developmental grants click here.

For more information on the mentored investigator program click here.

International Core (J. Allen McCutchan, M.D.)

The International Core serves as the focal point for coordinating the international efforts of the HNRC. The Core assists in the establishment of partnerships between HNRC Cores or affiliated projects with promising academicians in resource limited settings, and assists with training as well as the many logistics (e.g., communications, IRB review) involved in working with different countries. The Core also works with the Developmental Core to facilitate pilot studies and career development of junior international investigators.

Examples of Resources Available:

  • Consulting
    • Study Design
    • Development of Culturally Competent Assessments
    • Data Management
    • Data Analysis
  • Training of International Collaborator Staff

Coordinating Core (Igor Grant, M.D.)

The Coordinating Core is responsible for integrating the activities of the various scientific cores as well as creating structures and processes that enable participating investigators to perform their work in collaboration with the HNRC Cores. In addition to coordinating investigator activities and facilitating information exchange, the Coordinating Core also has the duty of identifying, recruiting, and maintaining cohorts of participants that are useful to the investigators. It maintains a data management system that embodies state-of-the-art information technologies, and provides statistical support to facilitate the framing of hypotheses, the development of research plans, assessment of study power, advice on appropriate strategies on data modeling, the performance of statistical analyses, and assistance with manuscript preparation.

Copyright ©2024 HIV Neurobehavioral Research Center | University of California, San Diego
HNRP | For questions regarding this site, please contact the webmaster