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The Campbell Foundation Awards Grant to Explore Brain Inflammation and Mental Decline in HIV Patients


Susan R. Miller

Garton-Miller Media

954-294-4973 (cell)

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL, November 4, 2016 -- The Campbell Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding HIV/AIDS research, has awarded a $77,495 grant to Cristina Granziera, MD, PhD. of Massachusetts General Hospital. The money will be used to study the gut-brain relationship in HIV-positive patients.


Dr. Granziera and her team will use non-invasive imaging (magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography) to determine whether HIV-positive patients with dysbiotic, or imbalanced, gut microbiomes have higher brain inflammation than HIV-positive patients with normal gut microbiomes.


Research has revealed that the gut holds the key to much of our overall health and well-being. An imbalance of bacteria in the gut can result in myriad problems including inflammation of the brain. This, in turn, can result in HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders.


“Although antiretroviral therapy has dramatically improved the lives of HIV-positive individuals, nearly half of those who achieve viral suppression continue to suffer from HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND),” noted Dr. Granziera. “Demonstrating the existence of a pathological gut-brain relationship in HIV-infected patients may open new perspectives to diminish the pathological consequences of HIV infection on the brain through the modulation of composition of gut microbiota (i.e. with changes in diet, use of prebiotics, fecal microbiota transplantation etc.) or supplementation of microbiota products.”


HAND is often used to describe problems related to thinking, memory and mood. It’s often mild and goes unnoticed. Generally, those who have it struggle with recollection of facts or memories, have difficulty learning new things, have feelings of sadness, or simply feel “fuzzy” in the head. However, in some individuals it can result in increased neurocognitive disorders such as dementia.


“The Campbell Foundation has a rich history of funding research that, not only focuses on finding a cure, but that has a positive impact on those living with HIV/AIDS,” said Foundation Executive Director Ken Rapkin. “Dr. Granziera’s research into the gut-brain relationship fits into our overall mission and we are excited to be able to provide her with the funding to conduct her research into an area that is getting a lot of attention in the scientific community.”



The Campbell Foundation was established in 1995 by the late Richard Campbell Zahn as a private, independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting clinical, laboratory-based research into the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. It focuses its funding on supporting alternative, nontraditional avenues of research. In its 21st year, the Campbell Foundation has given away more than $10 million dollars, with about $1 million going to direct services. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.




Dr. Granziera earned her MD from University of Padova Medical School (Italy) and her PhD from University of Lausanne (Switzerland). She is assistant professor in Radiology at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.


The focus of her current research is the investigation of the pathogenesis of neuroinflammatory and cerebrovascular diseases (multiple sclerosis, neuroHIV, migraine and stroke) using state-of-the art neuroimaging methods. She is particularly interested in the combination of multiple MRI contrasts to achieve the highest sensitivity and specificity to brain tissue pathology, as well as in multi-modal approaches like MR-PET. Her goal is to propose new models of disease impact and innovative tools to study disease evolution, by using the combined information of neuroimaging data, biological and clinical markers of disease.

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