SUNY Downstate Awarded $1.5M In National Institutes Of Health Global Health Unit For Ukraine HIV Research Training

By Office of Communications & Marketing | Jul 7, 2023

SUNY Downstate Representatives Joined Health Leaders from Ukraine, Poland, and Georgia, to Formally Kick-Off the Program in Warsaw

BROOKLYN, NY SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University’s Special Treatment and Research (STAR) Program received a $1.5M grant from the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) global health arm, the Fogarty International Center, to fund a Ukraine HIV Research Training Program amid Ukraine’s ongoing humanitarian crisis.

Jack A. DeHovitz, M.D., MPH, MHCDS, FACP, Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Medicine and STAR Program Director, SUNY Downstate, joined health leaders from Ukraine, Poland, and Georgia in Warsaw, Poland, formally kicking off the research program. Deborah Gustafson, Ph.D. M.S., SUNY Downstate Neurology Professor and Neuro Epidemiology Director, joined by video conference. The two-day conference kicked off the new grant through discussion with thought leaders from the NIH, Centers for Disease Control, the Ukrainian Ministry of Health, and Ukrainian stakeholders from academic and research sectors. The meeting began with greetings from the Ministry of Health and academic leaders from Poland, which offered critical support to Ukraine during the current crisis. Many participants from Poland were also graduates of the STAR Program’s earlier Fogarty funding.

Dr. DeHovitz is one of the two principal investigators for this research program. Konstantin Dumchev, MD, MPH, Scientific Director of the Ukrainian Institute of Public Health Policy (UIPHP), is the additional PI on this project. They were honored to have Peter Kilmarx, M.D., FACP, FIDSA, Acting Director of the Fogarty Center, attend and review NIH-supported global research efforts.

The New York State International Training and Research Program (NYS-ITRP) is the STAR program’s global health research arm. The newly funded research training program is a joint effort of the UIPHP and the NYS-ITRP. The NYS-ITRP has been working in Ukraine since 2010 to address gaps in the HIV care continuum and substance use treatment system in Ukraine.

“This grant is critical to Downstate’s commitment to international collaboration to address global public health challenges. Our global research partners and the NIH’s Fogarty International Center are fundamental in this collaboration to mitigate the spread of HIV and address obstacles to treatment in Ukraine,” said Dr. DeHovitz. “The ongoing war and public health challenges in Ukraine underscore the importance of sustained commitments to HIV prevention, and we look forward to embarking on this impactful project over the next five years.”

The ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine—with its devastating humanitarian consequences—highlights an existing uphill battle against the spread of HIV. For years, Ukraine has reported the second-highest HIV incidence rate in Europe, with approximately 13,000 Ukrainians infected with HIV each year. Heavy damage and compromised Ukrainian infrastructure and health facilities have caused significant disruption to HIV prevention and treatment services in the country. HIV-affected individuals in Ukraine now face significant barriers to receiving life-saving antiretroviral therapy, which may lead to a resurgence of HIV infection.

Through the research training program and its kick-off event in Warsaw, Poland, SUNY Downstate seeks to advance public health research to make a lasting impact on global HIV outcomes.


Contact: Dawn S. Walker
347.533.2071 (Cell)

About SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University is the borough’s only academic medical center for health education, research, and patient care. It is a 342-bed facility serving the healthcare needs of New York City and Brooklyn’s 2.6 million residents. University Hospital at Downstate (UHD) is Downstate’s teaching hospital; it is backed by an outstanding medical school’s expertise and world-class academic medical center research facilities. Over 800 physicians, representing 53 specialties and subspecialties—many of them ranked as tops in their fields—comprise Downstate’s staff.

In addition to high-risk neonatal and infant services, pediatric nephrology, and dialysis (kidney diseases)—and offering the only kidney transplantation program in Brooklyn, among many other distinctive programs. Downstate comprises a College of Medicine, a College of Nursing, a School of Health Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative, including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter at @sunydownstate.