Expressing Personal Recollections in English or Spanish to Alleviate Traumatic Emotions (Exprésate)


This study aims to recruit 36 HIV+ Hispanic/Latina women with a history of trauma and/or current symptoms of post-traumatic stress into one of 3 arms of an augmented 4-week written emotional disclosure (WED) intervention to be carried out over Zoom: (1) Spanish-only, (2) English-only, and (3) non-trauma daily event writing in English/Spanish). This study seeks to test the hypothesis that for these bilingual women, engaging in traumatic memories using a guided WED intervention in one’s primary language, i.e., Spanish, will be associated with positive change in several psycho-neuro-immune outcomes tied to the stress response. Collected prior to and after this intervention will be biomarkers, neurocognitive, psychiatric, sociocultural, and neuroimaging data to address the following study objectives:

  1.  Primary study outcomes: post-traumatic stress, BOLD activity during verbal and trauma recall. 
  2. Secondary study outcomes: cortisol reactivity and dexamethasone-induced suppression of CD16++ monocyte activation to trauma recall. 
  3. Tertiary study outcomes:  gene expression for FKBP5 methylation and NFKB. 

Heart Inflammation and Mental Stress Study (HIMS)


This study utilizes functional neuroimaging to determine whether HIV and/or pre-hypertensive (pre-HTN) status has an additive or interactive effect on cardioautonomic reactivity to stress. The study aims to examine these mechanisms at rest, during mental stress, and following social ostracism, i.e., discrimination. This study is recruiting men and women aged 21 to 59 years.

  1. Primary study outcomes: BOLD response in the central autonomic network (CAN), heartrate variability and blood pressure during mental and psychosocial stress.
  2. Secondary study outcomes: Change in pro-inflammatory cytokine expression of CD16++ PBMCs as a function of HIV+ status.
  3. Tertiary study outcomes: Indices of arterial stiffness (applanation tonometry) and vasodilation of the brachial artery (flow mediated dilation). 

Geriatric Resilience Informing Precision Selection (GRIPS)


This study aims to recruit adults aged 55 and older living with HIV to investigate predictors of health, cognition, and frailty in mid-to-late life. This study requires one visit to the UM Coral Gables campus and includes a blood draw, an MRI, a neuropsychological assessment, a brief physical assessment, and psychosocial questionnaires.

  1. Primary study outcomes: relate blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) activity during grip force generation to HIV-associated neurocognitive deficits.
  2. Secondary study outcomes: examine psychosocial and polypharmacological predictors of frailty
  3. Tertiary study outcomes: evaluate inflammatory, metabolic, and nutritional determinants in the liver-brain axis

Treatment Research Investigating Depression Effects on Neuroimmune Targets (TRIDENT)


This study aims to examine how decreasing depression alters microbiome-gut-brain axis pathways in people living with HIV. This randomized controlled trial will recruit 150 participants, who will either receive 12 sessions of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Adherence and Depression (CBT-AD), over 4 months or will be in a wait-list control group. The effects of treatment such as changes to the microbiome, HIV-related soluble inflammatory-immune markers, and leukocyte signaling to measure conserved transcriptional response to adversity (CTRA) will be evaluated periodically throughout treatment. This study is a collaboration with principal investigators Steven Safren, Ph.D (link:; Adam Carrico, Ph.D. (link:; and Robert Paul, Ph.D. (link: