CBAR’s Impact on Infectious Disease Research

A recent article in the Harvard Kiosk describes two decades worth of innovations and achievements in research related to HIV and other infectious diseases by statisticians of the Center for Biostatistics in AIDS Research (CBAR). Founded within the Department of Biostatistics in 1995 by Steve Lagakos, and currently under the leadership of Michael Hughes, CBAR is involved in the design, monitoring, and interpretation of clinical trials and laboratory studies of the AIDS Clinical Trial Group (ACTG). The center also serves as a statistical hub for 3 other NIH funded research networks and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health AIDS Initiative.

CBAR’s efforts have contributed significantly to reductions in AIDS mortality in the U.S. and globally. Statisticians from the group are focused on various aspects of surveillance, prevention, and treatment of the disease, from understanding long-term consequences of the use of antiretroviral drugs, to preventing mother-to-child transmission, to reducing the risk of opportunistic infection or concurrent diseases in HIV-infected people. In recent years CBAR’s focus on AIDS has expanded to include studies related to the prevention and treatment of tuberculosis, influenza, and antibiotic resistant bacterial infections.

Although the consequences of an HIV diagnosis have changed over time, the CBAR team is still working with urgency to understand and deal with the current and long-term consequences of HIV. According to Hughes, “Every success brings a new challenge, and we’re now engaged in research on what was perhaps unthinkable early in the epidemic: the possibility of curing HIV.”