Research Project directors

Below are profiles of staff members who play key roles in the coordination of research studies and clinical programs at the HIV Center.

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Renato Barucco, MS is the Coordinator of the Program for the Study of LGBT Health in the, Division of Gender, Sexuality, & Health, NYS Psychiatric Institute / Columbia University Department of Psychiatry with the Columbia University School of Nursing. He is a master's-level psychologist and public health advocate.

Renato has extensive experience implementing and managing LGBT health programs, particularly transgender health programs, in underserved New York City neighborhoods. His expertise include development of HIV/AIDS education and cultural competency training curricula.
 
Renato has presented at national and international conferences including The International Conference on AIDS and The National Transgender Health Summit. He has authored articles about sexual health for The Advocate, The Huffington Post and The New York Times. He was the recipient of the 2013 George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services Geiger Gibson Emerging Leader award.
 
Contact: 646-774-6977; Renato.Barucco@nyspi.columbia.edu
 

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Timothy Frasca, MPH is a Research Project Manager at the HIV Center, directing a Bronx-based study of ways to improve point-of-care screening and detection of acute HIV infection directed by Principal Investigator Robert H. Remien, Ph.D. He also collaborates with Alex Carballo-Diéguez, Ph.D., on behavioral aspects of rectal microbicide trials being conducted in Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Boston and San Juan and recently concluded work on a study of home HIV testing for partner screening. He is also a member of the New York metro area Ryan White Planning Council’s Needs Assessment Subcommittee for the period 2014-17.
 
Mr. Frasca worked as a journalist for 25 years in Washington, D.C. and South America where he filed reports to over 80 print and broadcast news organizations including National Public Radio, The Independent (London) and the BBC. He co-founded the first HIV prevention and services organization in Chile and served as its executive director for seven years. He is the author of the book AIDS in Latin America (2005) and co-editor of two Spanish-language anthologies on sexual health and HIV. He previously directed the Deep South Project at the New York-based Latino Commission on AIDS to improve HIV prevention and care services among Hispanic immigrants living in the southeastern U.S.  
 
Contact: 646-774-6969; timothy.frasca@nyspi.columbia.edu

Selected Publications:
Frasca, T, Balan I, Ibitoye M, Valladares J, Dolezal C, Carballo-Diéguez A. Attitude and behavior changes among gay and bisexual men after use of rapid home HIV tests to screen sexual partners. AIDS and Behavior 2013; AIDS & Behavior 2014, 18(5):950–95.
 
Frasca T, Dowsett GW, Carballo-Diéguez A. The ethics of barebacking: Implications of gay men's concepts of right and wrong in the context of HIV. International Journal of Sexual Health 2013; 25(3): 198-212.

For a list of publications and citation statistics, please see Timothy Frasca's Research Gate profile.
 

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Rebecca Giguere, MPH is a Research Project Manager at the HIV Center, overseeing multiple studies of microbicide adherence and acceptability led by Principal Investigators Alex Carballo-Diéguez, PhD and Iván Balán, PhD She has worked with Drs. Carballo-Diéguez and Balán on several studies with the Microbicides Trials Network, focusing on the behavioral and counseling aspects of microbicide trials being conducted domestically and internationally with women and MSM. Prior to working at the HIV Center, Ms. Giguere coordinated an NIH funded study of youth access to emergency contraception and worked on several projects promoting women’s reproductive and sexual health. She has several years of experience in public health research and programs in both international and domestic sectors and extensive professional experience in Latin America and with Spanish speaking immigrants in the US. . 
 
Contact: 646-774-6943; rebecca.giguere@nyspi.columbia.edu
 

For a list of publications and citation statistics, please see Rebecca Giguere's Google Scholar page and Research Gate profile.

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Cody Lentz, BS is a Assistant Research Scientist at the HIV Center working under Drs. Alex Carballo-Diéguez, Ph.D. and Iván Balán, Ph.D.. He currently helps to oversee multiple studies of microbicide adherence and acceptability, as well as an innovative HIV prevention intervention utilizing HIV Home tests among Men and Transgender women who have sex with men in NYC and San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

He holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Fordham University. Prior to joining the team at the HIV Center, he worked in the Memory Disorders Center at the New York State Psychiatric Institute as a clinical research coordinator. 

Contact: 646-774-6929; cody.lentz@nyspi.columbia.edu

Selected Publications
Lentz, C. L., Glenwick, D. S., & Kim, S. (2016). The relationship of coping style and ethnicity/culture to co-rumination in adolescents. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 35(2), 171-180.
 

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Javier López Rios, MPH is an Project Manager at the HIV Center, working with Dr. Robert Remien on several projects including the NYC AHI Project, a structural intervention looking to modify screening and detection practices for acute HIV infection in primary care settings, and with Dr. Alex Carballo-Dieguez on an innovative HIV prevention intervention using HIV Home tests among Men and Transgender women who have sex with men in NYC and San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez and obtained his Masters in Public Health in Community Health Education at the City University of New York's School of Public Health at Hunter College. He's currently a doctoral student at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy. 
 
Contact: 646-774-6974; javier.lopezrios@nyspi.columbia.edu
 
For a list of publications and citation statistics, please see his Google Scholar profile.
 

 

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Will Mellman, MSW, PhD is the Coordinator of the AFFIRM study of transgender identity development, working with Drs. Walter Bockting and Anke Ehrhardt. He received his PhD from the Sociomedical Sciences Department at Columbia University’s School of Public Health and is primarily interested in studying the social factors that influence the health practices and outcomes of transgender individuals, as well as the particular needs of transgender individuals as it relates to health services. Prior to attending Columbia, Will worked as a clinical therapist for children in various community behavioral health clinics in Philadelphia as well as a patient advocate and clinical case manager for perinatally infected children with HIV at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).

Contact: 646-774-6962; wlm2112@cumc.columbia.edu

Selected publications:
Molleston, J., Mellman, W., et al. (2013) Autoantibodies and autoimmune disease during treatment of children with chronic hepatitis C. J Pediatr Gastroenterol and Nutr, 56(3):304-10


 

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Nadia Nguyen, MSPH, PhD is a Project Manager for the ADD-ART study with Drs. Robert Remien, Reuben Robbins, Claude Mellins, and Patricia Warne, which is evaluating the use of a novel drug assay of dried blood spots to objectively measure ARV adherence among ART initiations in Cape Town, South Africa. She also manages the PCCP study with Drs. Robert Remien and Joanne Mantell, which is using over 500 qualitative interviews with young women, MSM, and heterosexual men to better understand barriers and facilitators to HIV testing and engagement in care in high HIV prevalence communities in the Lake Victoria region in Kenya.

She received her MSPH and PhD in Epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research focuses on structural and behavioral interventions, including cash transfers and partner-focused interventions for adolescent girls and young women, and novel strategies for measuring and improving ARV adherence.

ContactNadia.Nguyen@nyspi.columbia.edu

Selected publications: 
Nguyen NL, Powers KA, Hughes JP, MacPhail CL, Piwowar-Manning E, Patel EU, Gomez-Olive FX, Kahn K, Pettifor AE. Sexual Partnership Patterns Among South African Adolescent Girls Enrolled in HPTN 068: Measurement Challenges and Implications for HIV/STI Transmission. Sexually Transmitted Diseases. 2015 Nov;42(11):612-618.
 

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Jeannette Raymond, BA is a Project Manager at the HIV Center, working with Claude A. Mellins, Ph.D. on CASAH, a prospective cohort study of perinatally HIV-infected, and HIV-exposed, but uninfected youth. As the cohort transitions to young adulthood, the study examines their behavioral health outcomes and pathways of risk and resilience. Prior to working at the HIV Center, Jeannette worked at the Institute for International and Cross-Cultural Psychology, investigating issues surrounding acculturation and mental health in Chinese adolescents and young adults.

 

Contact: 646-774-6905; jeannette.raymond@nyspi.columbia.edu

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeannette-raymond-18a04a37/

Selected Publication:
Raymond, J., Bucek, A., Dolezal, C., Warne, P., Benson, S.,  Abrams, E. J., … & Mellins, C. A. (2017) Use of unannounced telephone pill counts to measure medication adherence among adolescents and young adults living with perinatal HIV infection. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 42(9), 1006-1015. doi:10.1093/jpepsy/jsx064
 

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Stephanie Serafino, MPH is a Research Project Director at the HIV Center, working with Theo Sandfort, PhD on “Universal for Some, Frequent for All”: HIV Testing & Targeting HIV Prevention in School-Based Heath Centers, an implementation science study located in the Bronx. Additionally, she’s working on a LGBTQ Youth in Foster Care Population Study in collaboration with NYC Administration for Children’s Services.

Prior to working at the HIV Center, Stephanie worked on research projects assessing contraception efficacy, various reproductive health outcomes and training evaluations at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. 


Contact info: 
Email: stephanie.serafino@nyspi.columbia.edu
Phone: 646-774-6971

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 Jillian Watkins, MSc is a Project Director at the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies and the New York State Psychiatric Institute.  Jillian directs the Link2CARE study, a large-scale randomized clinical trial of a behavioral intervention focused on preventing HIV, STIs, and substance abuse among young adults in the criminal justice system in Brooklyn, New York, led by Principal Investigator Dr. Kate Elkington.

She has a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Gerontology from the University of Guelph, a Master’s degree in Health Services Research from the University of Toronto and over a decade of experience in research and project management in the health services field.  Prior to joining the HIV Center, Jillian worked as a Health Services Research Consultant and Associate at the University of Toronto, Canada on research projects focusing on the organization and delivery of health care services to older adults and other marginalized groups.

Contact: 646-774-6924 or jillian.watkins@nypsi.columbia.edu
For a list of publications, please see Jillian’s Research Gate profile: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jillian_Watkins