The Third Coast CFAR is pleased to announce new leaders in its Developmental Core and Behavioral, Social, and Implementation Sciences (BSIS) Core. Kathryn Macapagal, PhD, and Elena Martinelli, PhD, both of Northwestern University, have been named co-directors of the Development Core. Michael Newcomb, PhD, of Northwestern University, and Russell Brewer, DrPH, of University of Chicago, have been named director and co-director of the BSIS Core.

“I’m happy to welcome these new leaders to the CFAR Directors Committee,” said Brian Mustanski, director of the Third Coast CFAR. “Kathryn, Elena, Michael, and Russell have exceptional leadership skills and experience leading important HIV research. I look forward to working closely with all of them on their respective Cores to advance the CFAR mission of ending the HIV epidemic in Chicago and beyond.”

Developmental Core

The CFAR’s Developmental Core serves a vital function for the Center, supporting investigators on a path to independent NIH funding and catalyzing new research collaborations that are cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional. Adding two co-directors with complementary expertise will bolster the Development Core’s capacity to support early-stage investigators across all disciplines of HIV research. Macapagal’s expertise lies in behavioral interventions and implementation research focused on improving the health and wellbeing of sexual and gender minority (SGM) adolescents. Martinelli’s research concentrates on host-virus interactions and HIV cure strategies.

Kathryn Macapagal
Kathryn Macapagal, PhD

“As someone who’s built their career on several awards and training opportunities through the CFAR, I’ve personally seen tremendous benefit from the Developmental Core’s support,” said Macapagal. “I’m incredibly excited about being the Developmental Core Co-Director because it combines my interest in supporting others’ careers and giving back to a community that’s given me so much professionally.”

Elena Martinelli
Elena Martinelli, PhD

The Developmental Core’s current director, Jenny Trinitapoli, PhD, of University of Chicago, will stay on in her current role through 2025 to mentor Macapagal and Martinelli in their new leadership roles. Rich D’Aquila, MD, co-director of the Third Coast CFAR, will be stepping down from his role as the Developmental Core’s co-director and will become the co-director of the CFAR’s Viral Pathogenesis Core.

“It is an honor for me to serve on the Developmental Core leadership team,” said Martinelli. “In my new role, I will bring my full commitment to a strong, inclusive, and innovative Third Coast CFAR.”

Behavioral, Social, and Implementation Sciences (BSIS) Core

The CFAR’s BSIS Core provides training, consultation, and custom services to support the work of faculty and collaborators throughout the CFAR. Services draw on BSIS Core’s expertise in intervention development, implementation science, qualitative methods, and community engagement. The founding director of the Core, Judy Moskowitz, PhD, MPH, of Northwestern University, and founding co-director, Alida Bouris, PhD, MSW, of University of Chicago, will step down to create opportunities for new leaders. Nanette Benbow, MAS, of Northwestern University, will stay on as a co-director of the BSIS Core, providing leadership and services for public health and implementation science.

“Rich and I want to convey our sincere thanks to Judy and Alida. As the founding director and co-director of the BSIS Core, they have helped make our CFAR the success that it is,” said Mustanski. “BSIS was one of the first cores in the CFAR network to have an implementation science focus. Local capacity to develop and lead HIV implementation research projects has been key to our growth in terms of grants and new faculty. Judy and Alida have also mentored numerous early-stage investigators and set the BSIS Core up for continued success.”

As director and co-director of the BSIS Core, Newcomb and Brewer will provide new vision and leadership for the core, particularly as the Core intensifies its focus on implementation science and community engagement. Newcomb’s expertise lies in examining health disparities among SGM youth, with a particular focus on HIV prevention and care in couples. His research aims to translate findings from observational studies into effective interventions and implement those programs in the community.

Michael Newcomb
Michael Newcomb, PhD

“As director of the BSIS Core, my primary goals will be to support early-stage investigators, early career faculty, and the research enterprise more broadly,” said Newcomb. “I’m confident that the BSIS Core can enhance behavioral science research across the CFAR institutions, and I look forward to working with our amazing members.”

Russell Brewer
Russell Brewer, DrPH

Brewer’s expertise lies in implementation research focused on Black sexual and gender minorities, justice-involved populations, and service providers in Chicago and the Southern US. His research efforts aim to understand the socio-structural barriers to HIV and substance use and develop interventions to transform service delivery, organizations, and communities for underserved and vulnerable populations. 

“I’m excited to serve as co-director of the BSIS Core,” said Brewer. “In addition to supporting the work of faculty and collaborators throughout the Third Coast CFAR, I am committed to advancing community engagement and dissemination in my new role.”