Headshot of Dr. Rich D'Aquila

Rich D’Aquila, MD  |   Faculty Profile
Director, Third Coast Center for AIDS Research
Director, NUCATS Center for Clinical Research
Associate Vice President for Research, Northwestern University  
Howard Taylor Ricketts Professor of Medicine – Infectious Diseases
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Headshot of Dr. Brian Mustanski

Brian Mustanski, PhD  |  Faculty Profile
Co-Director, Third Coast Center for AIDS Research
Director, Institute for Gender and Sexuality Minority Health and Wellbeing
Co-Director, Center for Prevention Implementation Methodology (Ce-PIM)
Professor of Medical Social Sciences
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine


Thanks for visiting the Third Coast Center for AIDS Research (CFAR). On behalf of our team, I welcome you and would like to tell you a bit about us, and then a little about myself.

Some of our CFAR’s members are among the national leaders in community-engaged translational research to improve the health of the young sexual and gender minority community. This enables our major goal: facilitating research to end the HIV epidemic in Chicago among young men who have sex with men. We are dedicated to turning around the trend that new HIV diagnoses are increasing at 5 percent each year in that group – and serving as a national model.

We also aim to improve the continuum of care, as well as to innovate advances in biomedical prevention and treatment/cure. In addition, our diverse membership performs cutting-edge research on immunopathogenesis, imaging, genomics, bioengineering, network and implementation science as well as policy / advocacy. Our CFAR aims to add value to our accomplished members by strategic planning that builds synergistic collaborations, enhances community engagement, and catalyzes increasing innovation and productivity. In addition, we will fund and mentor the next generation of researchers, thanks to our Schools’ generous supplementation of our NIH-awarded funds. I also encourage anyone else interested in helping us to do so through donations, and by staying connected through our e-news updates and membership.

Over decades I have witnessed progress against HIV – but more still needs to be done to stop the epidemic. When AIDS first appeared in 1982 (then called something more derogatory), I was finishing my Medicine residency. I had chosen to pursue a fellowship in Infectious Diseases in order to cure infections with a short course of antibiotics because I did not want to care for patients with terminal cancer or a chronic illness. Nevertheless, my colleagues and I found ourselves on the front lines caring for those dying from AIDS. Our patients were stigmatized (and, sadly, often still are). In those early years, there was no treatment for HIV infection and all we could offer was to ease suffering. This led me to seek training in molecular virology research and then to work in teams developing early antiretroviral therapies, including some of the breakthrough three-drug combinations that emerged in the 1990s. I also led multi-center efforts to develop antiretroviral resistance testing, which is now essential for personalizing effective HIV treatment. I have been privileged to stand beside those fighting racial disparities in HIV infection, and now try to leverage cellular intrinsic immunity against HIV for development of a cure. Collaborations with disciplines as diverse as medicinal chemistry and behavioral research have been critical for the advances I’ve seen, making me appreciate how that can help overcome the remaining hurdles to an HIV/AIDS-free world.

I hope you learn something on this visit to our website – and return often. Please let us know how we can better help you to contribute to our shared goal of ending the HIV epidemic.


Rich D’Aquila, M.D.
Director, Third Coast Center for AIDS Research