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Adolescent Medicine Research

Pictured: The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine's Research Team. 

The Center for Gender, Sexuality and HIV Prevention is the behavioral research arm of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine. The Center conducts research exploring a range of multidisciplinary academic subjects including sexual health, gender, sexuality, fertility, HIV prevention, behavioral health, and health disparities affecting adolescent and young adult populations.

The Center partners with community and academic organizations to support interdisciplinary collaboration and to design projects with a long-lasting public health significance.

The Center is also a Center for Research Excellence within Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute.

To inquire about research or collaboration opportunities, please contact us at CenterforGSHP@luriechildrens.org.

Current Studies

Many of our studies are completed online (virtually) and don’t require in-person visits. 

The objectives of this study are to examine the current knowledge and awareness of PrEP among young HIV-vulnerable Latinas in Chicago, explore the role of female caregivers and cultural influences in PrEP awareness, and identify possible education and uptake intervention and examine the feasibility and acceptability of intervention to increase PrEP awareness. Both adolescent and caregiver participants will complete a one time survey exploring cultural influences in PrEP awareness. Study staff is bilingual in Spanish/English; interviews will be conducted in language of choice.

Contact Agustina Pandiani to learn more about the study Call/text: 224.707.1536; Email: mailto:FPSTUDIES@bsd.uchicago.edu

08/1/18-7/31/20 (ARCC pilot award)
Via a community-academic partnership between Northwestern University, Lurie Children's and Chicago Public Schools, guided by a community-based participatory research approach, we will conduct intervention mapping to identify and describe the needs of pregnant and parenting young people within the Chicago Public School system. Local stakeholders, including CPS staff, community partners, and pregnant and parenting young people will participate in qualitative interviews to inform the design and development of a comprehensive system of support.

For more information or to learn if you are eligible to participate in the study, please contact Katie Nikolajuk at 312.227.7737 or knikolajuk@luriechildrens.org.

This study aims to identify strategies to enhance the success of the PrEP care continuum among African American cisgender women using three strategies: Identify data sources (electronic medical record, partner services, open source) that detect HIV risk that can be utilized in predictive analytic models to identify cisgender women who are most likely to benefit from PrEP, identify health system and provider-level barriers and facilitators to PrEP initiation for African American cisgender women, and identify factors associated with PrEP persistence among African American cisgender women.

09/2018–09/2020 (NIH 1UG3HD096920)
The purpose of this study is to adapt and then test the efficacy of combination interventions, using evidence-based peer navigation and mHealth components, to improve HIV testing, linkage to HIV care and HIV treatment outcomes among youth in Nigeria, ages 15-24, including young men who have sex with men. Over the course of five year study, this project will first pilot the interventions in Ibadan and the expand to multiple sites in Lagos Jos.

The purpose of this study is to qualitatively identify common factors in cisgender women newly diagnosed with HIV and missed opportunities prior to diagnosis in those same women for PrEP linkage. Qualitative data will inform the refinement of an automated identification system of PrEP-eligible women in the ED. Participants will complete a one-time interview to discuss HIV prevention, PrEP, and health concerns.

Contact the Our Stories team to see if you are eligible to participate: Phone number: 773.702.1334; Email: prepforwomen@medicine.bsd.uchicago.edu 

NIH R01HD097122 Mar 21, 2019 - Feb 29, 2024
The Gender Journey project is a Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development funded study led by Principal Investigator, Diane Chen, PhD. This is a longitudinal observational study at four sites (Lurie Children’s, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Boston Children’s Hospital and the University of California at San Francisco) investigating gender development and cognition amongst prepubertal transgender and gender-nonconforming youth. Survey instruments will be used to collect demographic, mental health, psychosocial and behavioral data from youth and their parent/caregiver. If you are interested in learn more about the study, click here or contact the research coordinator, Megan Runge, MS at mrunge@luriechildrens.org


08/03/18–05/31/23 (NIMH R01MH118151)
Theoretically-guided by the Health Information Technology Usability Evaluation Model, the proposed project will refine and test a next-generation diagnostic intervention delivered on a mobile platform to improve HIV testing and linkage-to-care outcomes among youth living with and at-risk for HIV. 

9/26/16–06/30/2021 (NINR (R01))
This randomized control trial is to test the efficacy of a stepped-care "adaptive" HIV medication adherence intervention for HIV infected adolescents and young adults, ages 16 to 29. Stepped care is a healthcare delivery model in which the least resource intensive part of an intervention is delivered first, and only those who do not improve then receive the high intensity, more resource intensive part of an intervention. Our intervention begins with two-way daily text messaging aimed at providing social cute to take HIV medications as prescribed. For more information and to learn if you are eligible for the study, please visit the Positive STEPS Chicago page. Or, contact us at positivestepschicago@gmail.com or text/call 872.228.9051

9/21/18–8/31/20 (R21 NICHD)
Project AFFRMED is a National Institute of Child Health and Human Development-funded study led by Principal Investigator, Diane Chen, Ph.D. Project AFFRMED will develop and test a patient-centered Aid For Fertility-Related Medical Decisions (AFFRMED), a decision aid designed for transgender youth to facilitate informed discussions about potential fertility risk associated with standard-of-care gender-affirming treatments and decision-making about fertility preservation. This AFFRMED will incorporate input from both a transgender health and fertility medicine expert advisory panel and transgender youth and their parents. Pilot testing will determine the AFFRMED’s feasibility and efficacy in improving transgender youth and parents’ fertility knowledge.

If you are interested in learning more about the study, please contact research coordinator, Victoria Kolbuck, MSW, at 312.227.6336 or VKolbuck@luriechildrens.org.

8/1/15–6/30/20 (RO1 NIH)
This is a longitudinal observational study at four sites (Lurie Children’s, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Boston Children’s Hospital and the University of California at San Francisco) to examine the outcomes of existing medical treatment protocols for gender dysphoria in two distinct cohorts: youth initiating puberty suppression and youth pursuing a phenotypic gender change.

Past Studies

2015–2019 (CDPH DA-41-3350-11-2014-003)
This project provides infrastructure support for an investigator team to evaluate 20 different HIV prevention projects across the city of Chicago.​

11/2016–5/2019 (Gilead Sciences)
This project seeks to increase communication, transparency and collaboration between communities impacted by HIV and cure scientists; the long term goal of the project is to increase the acceptability and willingness to engage in future cure research therapy among young men who have sex with men (MSM), MSM of color, transgender women, and cisgender women of color. 

7/1/2008–1/31/11 (NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse)
The purpose of this supplemental sub-study is to expand our knowledge of the socio-sexual networks of young men who have sex with men (YMSM). Our goal is to better understand these networks and their influence on HIV-related risk and other clustering health issues in YMSM to inform intervention development.

4/1/09–01/31/14 (NIDA (R01))
This project investigates a syndemic of psychosocial health issues linked to HIV among young men who have sex with men (YMSM) ages 16-20. This syndemic includes HIV risk, drug use, mental health and violence exposure.

7/1/07–6/30/12 (NICHD (R01))
This qualitative and ethnographic study seeks to understand the cultural underpinnings of HIV in African-American male and female adolescents. This multi-site study is being conducted in San Francisco, Chicago and Birmingham.

9/30/10–7/31/15 (NIH/NIDA (R01))
This study supports the cultural targeting and testing of a group-based smoking cessation intervention for LGBT smokers.

Lurie Children’s is a subcontractor to the lead organization, University of Illinois at Chicago (PI: A. Matthews).

Funded by Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute
Pilot Award #UL1TR001422 | Timeline: 2/1/17- 8/1/2017
This pilot project extends previous work using Google Trends to predict rates of STIs, based on the premise that the volume of certain search query terms are related to rates of disease acquisition and transmission. The goal of the project is to develop and train a predictive model using reported STI case data from Chicago, establishing 1) predictive capacity; 2) timeliness; and 3) ability to target interventions.

2016–2019 (CDPH DA-41-3350-11-2014-003)
This project aims to collaborate with the Chicago Department of Public Health and its delegate agencies to develop and execute rigorous implementation, process, and outcome evaluations of PrEP Implementation and Data to Care projects. 

Planned submission September 2011 (NIMH/NICHD (R21))
This study will gather information from young Black MSM and their parents to explore the feasibility of a family based HIV prevention intervention for this high-risk population.

1/1/12–12/31/13 (CDPH)
Hotline is a collaborative program between Lurie Children’s, Center on Halsted, Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Stroger Hospital, University of Chicago Medicine, and CDPH. The goal of this program is to link adolescents in Chicago who are HIV positive into culturally-sensitive systems of medical care and increase the number of HIV positive adolescents and young adults who are engaged in long-term medical care through the development of a sustainable network of adolescent-specific linkage-to-care counselors.

11/09–present (Lesbian Health Fund)
This pilot feasibility project investigates the relationships between self-identities and risk behaviors in LGBT adolescents ages 16-24 and a heterosexual comparison sample.

6/2017–7/2018 (Society for Family Planning)
This project will engage HIV-vulnerable women in the development of tailored PrEP prevention strategies to optimize PrEP implementation. The long term goal of the project is to provide preliminary evidence to design a patient-informed and patient-centered intervention to advance the scientific study of PrEP awareness and uptake among HIV-vulnerable women.

NIH Review March 2011–August 2016 (NIMH (RO1))
Two-city study (Chicago and Boston) evaluating the efficacy of a novel group-based HIV prevention intervention targeting young transgender women.

Visit the study's Facebook page. 

09/01/16–04/30/21 (NIH (U01))
Using a web-based platform, MyPEEPS Mobile will test a random control trial of a HIV behavioral intervention for diverse young men who have sex with men (YMSM), aged 13-18. MyPEEPS Mobile aims to reduce sexual risk behaviors by increasing knowledge of HIV, increasing self-efficacy for safer sex, and increasing health-related partner verbal communication. For more information and to learn if you are eligible for the study, please contact contact MyPEEPS at mypeeps@luriechildrens.org. 

2017–2019 (Lurie Children's)
This small randomized control trial is testing the efficacy of the TODAY! App. Based on the principles of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), the TODAY! App targets depressive and anxiety symptoms among 14-24 year old young men attracted to men. The app-based intervention is supported by brief telephone coaching program to enhance treatment adherence. Eligible participants will complete phone and online mood and behavior assessments at different points throughout their study participation For more information and to learn if you are eligible for the study, please email us at todaystudy@luriechildrens.org or text/call 224.585.9066.

Planned submission January 2012 (NIMH (RO1))
Using the results of our R34 (subject participation recently completed and data analysis begun) we will move forward with a multisite RO1 to examine the efficacy of this intervention.

9/1/07–11/31/10 (NIMH (R34))
This three year study developed a group-based intervention for ethnically-diverse YMSM aged 14-20.  

1/1/12–12/31/13 (CDPH)
Out & About provides sexual health outreach and HIV testing and counseling services to young men who have sex with men on Chicago’s north side. This program focuses efforts during evening and late night hours.

4/1/12–3/31/15 (NIH/NIMH (R34))
This goal of this project is to refine and pilot test a flexible Network Supported Engagement in Care intervention that recruits and motivates one or more organic social support network members of recently HIV diagnosed young black men who have sex with men (YBMSM) to improve engagement in HIV primary care.

Lurie Children’s is a subcontractor to the lead organization, University of Chicago (PI: J. Schneider).

11/09–8/11 (NIH)
This feasibility and acceptability study evaluates the utility of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) among high risk young men who have sex with men (MSM) ages 18-22. This project involves collaboration with Stroger Hospital and the NICHD funded Adolescent Medicine Trials Network.

1/10–9/12 (CDC/NICHD) 
This project examines an innovative HIV testing and linkage-to-care initiative among CDPH-funded adolescent HIV testing sites. This study involves collaboration with Stroger Hospital and the NICHD-funded Adolescent Medicine Trials Network.

9/15/15–9/14/20 (NIDA (R01))
The purpose of this study is to assess the feasibility, acceptability and efficacy of an electronic screening and brief intervention for alcohol use coupled with “Seek, Test, Treat, Retain” (STTR) HIV prevention model in comparison to STTR only among young men who have sex with men (YMSM) and young transgender women (YTW).

6/1/18–5/31/19 (Lurie Children’s)
This study, led by Principal Investigator Diane Chen, Ph.D., aims to identify key neurodevelopmental domains and associated measurement tools to effectively assess the effects of pubertal suppression treatment on the developing adolescent brain. This study employs Delphi methodology to incorporate the perspectives of multidisciplinary experts, as well as surveys of youth who are currently on pubertal suppression treatment and their parents to gather their observations about changes in neurodevelopmental processes.

If you are interested in learning more about the study, please contact research coordinator, Victoria Kolbuck, MSW, at 312.227.6336 or VKolbuck@luriechildrens.org.

4/10/13–10/09/18 (NICHD (R01))
This project studies the continuum of HIV counseling and testing, linkage to care, and adherence management among male couples. This is a randomized controlled trial that will explore whether receiving a package of prevention services as a couple (rather than individually) improves clinical outcomes among HIV infected participants.

11/01/10–10/30/13 (NIDA (R34))
This randomized controlled trial tests the efficacy of a SMS text messaging intervention on antiretroviral adherence rates among previously non-adherent youth and young adults living with HIV, aged 16-29.

NIH Review March 2011 (NIDA (RO1))
Six-city study evaluating the utility of SMS text messaging to improve adherence for HIV positive youth initiating therapy.

1/1/12–12/31/13 (CDPH)
The aim of this program is to support outreach, HIV testing and counseling and linkage-to-care for young transgender women ages 16-29 throughout the city of Chicago.

9/01/2012–8/31/2013 (HRSA)
Led by the Chicago House and the Social Service Agency, this project is a comprehensive and multi-strategy approach to identifying HIV-positive transgender women of color who are out of care and engaging them successfully in accessible, quality and culturally competent HIV primary care. The project also seeks to promote their continuous engagement in care with individual and structural-level support systems.

The project’s core intervention will use a strengths-based, case management approach to provide transgender women of color with intensive, short-term linkage-to-care services from TransLife Care Coordinators. These coordinators specialize in addressing clients’ barriers to care and connecting them to resources that address their essential needs to support their long-term retention in care.

Lurie Children’s is a subcontractor to the lead organization, Chicago House and Social Service Agency (Project Director: S. Sloan).

1/23/17–12/31/19 (R21 NICHD)
Puberty suppressing medications are becoming more widely accepted as standard of care for transgender youth in early puberty. Guidelines provided by the World Professional Association of Transgender Health recommend youth meet with a mental health clinician to assess understanding and expectations of treatment prior to initiating these medications. The goal of this study is to better understand how cognitive and emotional functioning affects transgender youth’s medical decision-making. Study findings also will inform the development of an assessment tool that would assist mental health clinicians in objectively assessing youth’s breadth and depth of understanding the potential risks and benefits of pubertal suppression treatment.

If you are interested in learning more about the study, please contact project coordinator, Victoria Kolbuck, LSW, MSW at 312.227.6336 or VKolbuck@luriechildrens.org.

9/1/16–12/31/17 (Society of Pediatric Psychology Targeted Research Grant/Northwestern University REACH Grant)
Puberty blocking medications and gender-affirming hormones are becoming more widely accepted as standard of care for transgender youth but may have an effect on long-term fertility potential. The goal of this study is to explore existing knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs related to fertility and reproductive health among two cohorts of transgender youth (ages 9-13 and ages 14-24) and their parents/guardians, and examine whether current practices for fertility counseling are meeting patient/family needs to make informed treatment decisions.

10/1/06–9/30/11 (CDC) 
This project reinvents an effective behavioral intervention and tailors it to the HIV-risk mechanisms of transgender youth from communities of color ages 16-24. The study adapts the previously validated SISTA HIV behavioral intervention used with African-American women for use with transgender women.

8/1/15–7/31/17 (Emory CFAR/NIAID (P30))
Latino/as in the US continue to become infected with HIV at disproportionate rates but little is known about their attitudes regarding PrEP--a new, once-a-day pill found to reduce HIV risk. This study examines how sexuality, gender identity, culture, and other social determinants influence PrEP-related attitudes among gay/bisexual Latinos and transgender Latinas. Note: This study is not a medication trial, so PrEP will not be prescribed.

4/1/2013–2/28/18 (NIMH (RO1))
This study uses social network analysis to address fundamental questions about the spread of infectious disease through social networks and how affiliation with both risk spaces and health spaces contributes to disease transmission. 

8/07–7/11 (NIH (K Award))  
This study determines whether massage therapy or relaxation exercises improve the functioning of the body's immune system in HIV positive people aged 12-29.