Skip to main content

Pilot and Developmental (PAD) Core

Core Director: Mariana Cherner, Ph.D.
Co-Investigator: Stuart Lipton, M.D., Ph.D.


Ensuring the successful development of the next generation of innovative research ideas and young scientists is critical to the continued advancement of high-impact translational science in neuroAIDS and addictions. Building on TMARC’s success in supporting Pilot Studies and junior investigators during the past funding period, we established a formal Pilot/Developmental Core for the renewal. The PAD Core enables TMARC to expand the scope, rigor, and effectiveness of its already strong investment in serving as a resource-efficient incubator for innovative Pilot Studies and shaping individually-tailored developmental activities for trainees and junior investigators that will foster their professional growth in neuroAIDS and addictions research. Leadership of the PAD Core is multidisciplinary and brings considerable prior experience in training and the administration of developmental activities. The developmental program assists trainees and junior investigators in matching with appropriate mentors and accessing TMARC scientific resources. The pilot grant program involves annual calls for applications, which will undergo formal scientific review by a nationally-recognized panel of external experts, the resource economy of which will be facilitated by linking the TMARC PAD Core to that of the HIV Neurobehavioral Research Center (HNRC). After external review, the TMARC scientific leadership will evaluate highly rated proposals for their relevance to the Center’s over-arching translational scientific aims and available resources before final funding recommendations are offered to NIDA program staff. The PAD Core funded 5 novel pilot studies for grant renewal year 1 that address issues germane to TMARC's METH/HIV aims, including real-world functioning (Iudicello), cerebrovascular imaging (Gongvatana), immunologic and virologic markers (Massanella), cellular aging (Schrier), and vasculopathy (Soontornniyomkij). Each Pilot Study: a) Underwent a rigorous review process; b) Is led by a junior investigator; c) Has the potential to support external grant applications; and d) Leverages the transdisciplinary resources of the Cores and Projects that support it.


The TMARC PAD Core supports small-scale, innovative studies led by junior scientists, that relate to HIV and METH effects on the brain. The PAD Core also fosters the professional development of promising young scientists. By providing mentorship and multidisciplinary training opportunities, the PAD Core will help foster the next generation of investigators focusing on translational science in HIV and METH.