Each SHARP scholar is matched with a mentor team, with whom they work throughout the summer. These mentors provide guidance on the scholar's project, serve as a sounding board for the scholar's educational career and goals, and provide coaching on how to work in a public health research environment.
Bios for our mentors are listed below. Mentors who are participating in the 2018 cycle are marked with a * . Other mentors will offer presentations over the summer.
Phillip Coffin, M.D., M.I.A., F.A.C.P. is the Co-Principal Investigator of SHARP. He is the Director of Substance Use Research at the San Francisco Department of Public Health. He is a board certified internal medicine and infectious diseases clinician; specific foci of Dr. Coffin’s training include HIV management, buprenorphine maintenance, addiction management, toxicology, and viral hepatitis care. As Director, Dr. Coffin oversees several pharmacologic and behavioral trials that aim to reduce substance use and related risk behaviors for blood-borne virus infection. Since the early 1990s, Dr. Coffin has been involved in developing and studying services for drug users, including syringe exchange, pharmacotherapy, and overdose prevention programming.
Dr. Coffin completed his undergraduate studies at Brown University, graduate studies in international affairs at Columbia University, and obtained his medical degree at the University of California, San Francisco. He returned to Columbia University to complete his internal medicine residency, then moved to Seattle to complete his training with an infectious diseases fellowship at the University of Washington.
In addition to the intersection between substance use and HIV, Dr. Coffin’s interests include screening and linkage to care for persons with hepatitis C; opioid overdose and the distribution of naloxone; mathematical modeling of substance use and infectious diseases; and clinical care for HIV, viral hepatitis, and general infectious diseases. Dr. Coffin has an established record of clinical experience, academic service, and innovative research, and his expertise in the field is evidenced by his extensive presentation and publication record. Dr. Coffin is also credited with developing a major international conference, Preventing Heroin Overdose: Pragmatic Approaches, and establishing the first hospital-based naloxone distribution program at Columbia University Medical Center.
Akua Gyamerah, DrPH, MPH completed her Master and Doctor of Public Health degrees in Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. As a sociomedical scientist, she is broadly interested in examining social and structural determinants of health and developing multi-level interventions and advocacy efforts to address these factors. Dr. Gyamerah’s specific research interests lie at the juncture of African LGBTQ populations, human rights, and HIV prevention and care, with an interest in examining how sociocultural factors shape sexuality, gender, rights and health within the African diaspora. Her most recent research examined the development, implementation, and reception of HIV prevention policies and programs for Ghanaian men who have sex with men and sociocultural factors shaping these efforts given that sex between men is criminalized and stigmatized in Ghana. Over the years, she has worked on a number of research studies in the areas of sexual health and HIV with a focus on general and LGBTQ populations. Her research has been supported in part by the Fulbright U.S. Student Program and the NIH’s Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Predoctoral Fellowship.
Willi McFarland, MD, PhD, MPH&TM is a Principal Investigator of the Trans*National Cohort Study. He is the Director of the Center for Public Health Research at the San Francisco Department of Public Health. He is also a Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, affiliated with the Prevention and Public Health Group in the Global Health Sciences Department and the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS). Dr. McFarland has conducted research on the epidemiology and prevention of HIV in California, the US, and internationally. His primary emphasis is on surveillance in key populations and the use of data for public health decision-making. He's eager to help achieve the goal of recruiting the most representative and inclusive sample of transwomen to date, the most accurate measure of HIV incidence among transwomen, and the most useful data for developing effective tools for HIV prevention. His favorite thing is sea salt.
John A. Sauceda, PhD, MSc is a health psychologist by training and Assistant Professor at the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies in the Division of Prevention Science at UCSF. His research aims to improve mental health outcomes and reduce health disparities in Spanish and English-speaking Latino/a communities impacted by HIV. His NIMH-funded research projects include assessing the concept and dimensions of engagement in HIV care among Spanish and English-speaking Latinos in San Francisco, and to model the trajectories of HIV treatment outcomes as a function of depression and substance use in a national cohort of Latinos in HIV care settings. His current NIMH K01 is to develop a sequential multiple assignment randomized trial to develop an adaptive cognitive and behavioral therapy program for depression with the aid of a mobile health tool. He seeks to understand the role of Latino/a culture and Spanish language in mental health treatment utilization and HIV care and treatment management.
Kelly D. Taylor, PhD, MPH is a research scientist with the Institute for Global Health Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco. Educated at University of Michigan, Vanderbilt University, and University of California Berkeley, Dr. Taylor is a behavioral scientist with a background in community psychology, epidemiology, and evaluation methodology. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship in AIDS prevention at the University of California San Francisco, Center for AIDS Prevention Studies. Her primary research interests are in research capacity building in low resource settings, health disparities, and psychosocial determinants of health in developing countries, particularly, the role of health seeking behavior among key populations at risk for HIV. She is also interested in the treatment of HIV and other chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. Dr. Taylor’s emphasis is in Sub-Saharan Africa, and she has worked professionally in Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, and South Africa. Her current projects include designing and conducting population size estimations in Ghana and evaluating implementation of health information systems in Mozambique.
Paul Wesson, PhD completed his PhD in Epidemiology from the University of California, Berkeley. His dissertation research focused on sampling and estimating the size of hidden and hard-to-reach populations. To this end, he applied standard statistical methods and novel Bayesian models to estimate the size of African-American men who have sex with men in San Francisco and to evaluate the completeness of the HIV surveillance system in Alameda County. During his time as a graduate student, Dr. Wesson also provided population size estimation consultation to the CDC in Namibia and Central America. As a TAPS fellow, Dr. Wesson is interested in continuing his research on the health of hidden and marginalized populations, as well as exploring the social determinants of health disparities in the context of infectious diseases. Additionally, he is interested in the application of Bayesian models and causal inference methods to observational study designs.
Erin Wilson, DrPH is a research scientist at the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Wilson is laser focused on better health and wellness among transwomen and youth. Her research focus for the last two decades has been determining the reasons transwomen and youth are at high risk for HIV, on decreasing HIV risk factors, and increasing access to HIV prevention and care resources for transwomen and youth. Dr. Wilson is an expert in qualitative research, mixed methods studies, social epidemiological research, sampling hidden populations and community-based participatory research. She is currently the Principal Investigator (PI) of a 5-year NIH R01 to longitudinally study HIV risk and resilience among trans youth in the San Francisco Bay Area (www.theshinestudy.org), and of an international prospective HIV incidence study of transwomen in four countries (www.transnationalstudy.org), and of a Demonstration Project to increase PrEP access in the trans community (www.staystudy.org). She is also the PI for the evaluation of a Special Projects of National Significance to increase engagement and retention in HIV care among transgender women of color and among young gay and transwomen. Dr. Wilson’s international experience has focused on formative research to inform behavioral surveillance studies among key populations at risk for HIV/AIDS in Mozambique, Zambia, and the Ivory Coast, study ART adherence in Kenya and conduct HIV risk studies of transwomen in Brazil and Nepal. Dr. Wilson is committed to the growth of scientists interested in serving trans and other communities impacted by HIV in the US and around the globe, and she looks forward to mentoring the next generation of HIV research scholars.
Sean Arayasirikul, PhD is a Medical Sociologist whose work is focused on the entanglements of technology in society; in particular, its role in constructing emerging conceptions of health, illness and identity, and as a means to disrupt the production of stigma, discrimination, social isolation and negative health outcomes. He was an National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) T32 Pre-Doctoral Fellow at the Alcohol Research Group, UC Berkeley. He was named an American Sociological Association Minority Fellow. He served as the Health Literacy and Health Policy Fellow at the United States Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) and as a Scholar at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). In Washington, D.C., he oversaw mobile health and HIV testing initiatives at Whitman-Walker Health and was a mobile HIV Case Manager for newly diagnosed HIV-positive youth in Los Angeles County. Deeply committed to adolescent health, Sean has represented youth communities in HIV community planning processes as a member of the HIV Prevention Planning Committees in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. Currently, Sean is a Research Scientist at the Center for Public Health Research at the San Francisco Department of Public Health and is a Co-PI and Co-I on a number of projects focused on technology, PrEP, and HIV among racial, sexual and gender minority populations.
Sean is a son to immigrants, a 2nd generation Thai American. As an LGBT youth, he survived homelessness and was raised working poor. He earned a Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of California, San Francisco and his dissertation research used intersectionality to examine social inequality among transwomen in the San Francisco Bay Area and at the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality. He is also the San Francisco Father of the Iconic House of Infiniti, a legendary staple in the House and Ballroom Community. Sean seeks to disrupt social unevenness, think resistance into reality, and change the material conditions that weigh each and every one of us down, but especially the vulnerable, marginalized and othered.
Emily Behar, MS is a Research Study Coordinator at the Substance Use Research Unit at the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) where she manages a portfolio of clinical, behavioral and implementation research studies aimed to reduce opioid-related morbidity and mortality. Emily's research focuses on improving opioid stewardship initiatives in primary care settings to support patient-centered management of pain and opioid use disorder. She has worked extensively to increase naloxone prescribing to patients on chronic opioids in San Francisco and throughout California. Emily received a Master's of Science in Medical Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania where she focused on systemic structures of violence in vulnerable populations. Emily is currently a doctoral candidate in the Global Health Sciences Department at the University of California, San Francisco.
Jaclyn Hern, MPH is a Research Study Coordinator at the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH). She received her Masters of Public Health in Epidemiology from George Washington University in Washington, DC. Here at SFDPH, Jaclyn assists in the coordination of pharmacologic studies that aim to reduce substance use and related HIV risk behaviors. Previously, Jaclyn coordinated studies looking at antiretroviral medication adherence among HIV-infected pediatric patients and the acceptance of routine HIV screening in pediatric emergency departments at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC. She has also worked on a city-wide longitudinal cohort there that aims to describe clinical outcomes and improve the care of HIV-infected individuals.
Albert Liu, MD, MPH is the Director of HIV Prevention Intervention Studies at Bridge HIV and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCSF. He is a board certified internist and instructs internal medicine residents in the care of underserved populations. After completing his MD at UCSF and MPH at UC Berkeley, he served as Medical Director of the Haight Ashbury Free Medical Clinic for 2 years. Dr. Liu’s research focuses on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), the use of HIV treatment medications to prevent new infections in HIV-negative individuals. He is currently the Protocol Chair of the Demo Project, a PrEP Demonstration Project in San Francisco, Miami, and Washington DC. Dr. Liu was awarded an NIH grant to develop strategies to promote PrEP adherence in real-world settings. The EPIC study (Enhancing PrEP in Communities) will explore factors that influence adherence and risk behaviors in the Demo Project and develop and test a package of online and mobile health tools to promote the uptake and adherence to PrEP in diverse settings. Dr. Liu is also directing the San Francisco effort in an international study evaluating the safety of a rectal gel – known as a microbicide – to prevent the acquisition of HIV among men who have sex with men and transgender women.
Glenn-Milo Santos, PhD, MPH is a Senior Research Scientist in the Center for Public Health Research in the San Francisco Department of Public Health and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Community Health Systems at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). He obtained his Ph.D. in Epidemiology and Translational Sciences at UCSF and his M.P.H. in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California Berkeley.
Dr. Santos’ research focii involve the development of pharmacologic and behavioral interventions to reduce substance use and HIV-related sexual risk behaviors among key populations at risk for HIV, including men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender individuals, and people who use drugs. He has published over 30 peer-reviewed articles in the past 5 years and has presented at national and international conferences on these topics (http://profiles.ucsf.edu/glenn-milo.santos). He was part of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s Editorial Board for the Technical Guidelines on Stimulant Use and HIV. Additionally, he currently serves in the Research Advisory Group for the Global Forum on MSM and HIV, and in Executive Committee of the AIDS Research Institute at UCSF.
Dr. Santos was the recipient of the Young Innovator award at the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention’s National HIV Prevention Conference in 2011. Additionally, he received the National Institute on Drug Abuse Dissertation Research Award in 2012 and the University of California President’s Dissertation-Year Fellowship Program Award in 2013. Recently, he was awarded the NIH Director’s Early Independence Award (EIA) to support a five-year study, entitled “Say When” (www.saywhensf.org), evaluating a medication to reduce heavy episodic drinking, “binge drinking”, and alcohol-related sexual risk behaviors among MSM at risk for HIV. The EIA is part of the NIH’s “High Risk-High Reward” initiative that funds scientists with exceptional creativity and highly innovative research projects addressing major contemporary challenges in biomedical and health research.
Susan Scheer, PhD, MPH, has over 20 years of experience in HIV research and over 12 years of experience working with HIV surveillance data and related studies. She works closely with other HIV surveillance jurisdictions nationally on capacity building & shares HIV surveillance best practices both nationally and internationally. Additionally, Dr. Scheer has developed methods for using surveillance data to monitor and evaluate HIV prevention programs and has extensive experience applying these methods and data to HIV prevention strategies.
Caitlin Turner, MPH is a Data Analyst with the Substance Use Research Unit (SURU) at the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH). Currently, she manages the Substance Use Related Death Surveillance database, conducts substance-related data analysis projects, and supports day-to-day operations of the pharmacological interventions held at SURU. Previously, she analyzed the characteristics of men who have sex with men (MSM) who were high engagers in a novel text messaging data collection platform that gathered daily information about their substance, alcohol, and study medication use. She also researched the psychosocial predictors of engagement in sexual risk behavior among trans*female youth enrolled in the SHINE study at SFDPH. As an aspiring social epidemiologist, her research interests include social determinants of health, substance use research, and the translation of findings to policy action. She received her Master of Public Health degree in Epidemiology/Biostatistics from UC Berkeley. Caitlin was also an honorary SHARP scholar in the summer of 2015 and is eager to bring that perspective to her role as a mentor.
Chris Rowe, MPH is Research Analyst at the Substance Use Research Unit at the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) where he conducts secondary data analyses and produces reports and manuscripts for dissemination, manages data for several ongoing studies and surveillance of substance use related health outcomes in the city of San Francisco, and provides analytic and statistical support for various studies and projects throughout the research group. His research interests include broader health issues of vulnerable populations and the effectiveness of related policies, programs, and interventions. Chris received a Master’s of Public Health in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from the University of California, Berkeley where he conducted research to understand the dual effects of pesticide exposure and poverty among children in an agricultural community. Chris is currently a doctoral student in Epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is focusing on quantitative methods to evaluate the effects of programs and policies using administrative and routinely collected data.