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Research partnerships in Africa and Asia are central to the success of the UNC CFAR, whose organizing purpose is to change the course of the epidemic through discovery. Toward this end, we have made extensive, sustained investments in HIV research and training sites in Africa and Asia, and have chosen 5 countries in which to focus our NIH-sponsored HIV/AIDS research. These are: Malawi, South Africa, Zambia, China, and Vietnam. The International Core was formed with an understanding that it can be challenging to conduct biomedical and translational research in resource-constrained settings, and that by centralizing certain common functions we can maximize creativity, innovation, and impact.

Our activities are bi-directional: we connect UNC investigators to key populations in Africa and Asia, and we connect in-country scientists to research and training resources at our US location.


  • Consultation and expertise in human subject research and ethics in foreign countries
  • Centralized management of US and foreign IRB submissions and other regulatory matters
  • Support for new protocol development through the review of new funding submissions, including design, approach, budget, grant assembly, internal review, and obtaining letters of support
  • Connecting international scientists to resources and expertise on the UNC campus
  • Developing new lab capacity and supporting the introduction of new assays
  • Supporting standardization of data collection and database maintenance across sites

The International Core stimulates scientific collaboration in interdisciplinary and translational research by familiarizing collaborators with the resources of all the CFAR cores, and by helping CFAR investigators from UNCFamily Health International (FHI 360) and Research Triangle Institute (RTI) conduct research in these key countries.

The International Core sponsors a wide array of training opportunities through the resources of the UNC Fogarty Center, USAID, and NGOs including FHI 360, and the Clinton Foundation; and provides in-country outreach and educational opportunities including scientific dissemination meetings.


Consultation in human subjects research in foreign countries

  • Maintain a dynamic informational display of current international research in HIV/AIDS by UNC investigators, with links to information about international research by the CFAR partner institutions, RTI and FHI. The goal is to foster collaborations between existing international researchers and to facilitate access to international sites for new investigators.
  • Convene international research experts from UNC, FHI and RTI to collect up-to-date information on country-specific expertise and on-going projects.

Centralized management of foreign country IRB and other regulatory matters

  • Provide guidance on the ethics of international research on HIV/AIDS, through hands-on consultation and assistance with IRB issues, informed consent, and the regulatory requirements of international research, and through maintaining links to training and informational websites developed at other institutions.

Proposal development and technical support

  • Assist international collaborators and trainees to develop independent proposals for NIH funding, focusing particularly on the countries with which UNC has ongoing collaborative research projects. Currently, these include: China, Malawi, Madagascar, Congo, Cameroon, South Africa, and Russia.
  • In collaboration with the other cores, assist in providing technical support for clinical and basic research laboratories in resource-constrained settings for STD/HIV research, with special focus on countries with ongoing collaborative research projects.