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Academic Programs Divisions Featured Grants and Awards PhD Pharmacotherapy and Experimental Therapeutics Students,
Grayson Mendenhall
January 7, 2016

Nithya Srinivas
Nithya Srinivas

Nithya Srinivas, a Ph.D. student in the Division of Pharmacotherapy and Experimental Therapeutics at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, has been awarded a 2016 Presidential Trainee Award through the American Society of Clinical Pharmacology Therapeutics.

The award recognizes her abstract, “Antiretroviral Drug Exposure in Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) as a Predictor of Neurocognitive Outcomes in HIV Infected Patients,” and indicates it received a top score when compared to other project submitted by clinical pharmacologists in training.

Srinivas graduated with her Bachelor of Science in pharmacy in 2014 in Bangalore, India, and is completing her Ph.D. under the guidance of Angela Kashuba, Pharm.D., the John and Deborah McNeill, Jr. Distinguished Professor and chair of DPET. While the abstract is not her dissertation, Srinivas says she plans for the dissertation to be a continuation of the abstract and use similar technology.

“UNC has an internationally renowned focus in HIV/AIDS research, and I am really lucky to be in an environment that is at the forefront of engaging discoveries and development, not only in HIV treatment, but also cure and prevention fields,” she said. “This strong focus on HIV research combined with excellent collaboration opportunities both within the school of pharmacy and outside has allowed me to work on various types of projects and significantly enhance my exposure and understanding in this field.”

Neurocognitive impairment in HIV patients is still common despite potent antiretroviral therapy. Srinivas uses a population pharmacokinetic model to estimate exposure of tenofovir, emtricitabine and darunavir boosted with ritonavir in cerebrospinal fluid over a dosing interval and explores the relationship with neurocognitive outcomes. Neurocognitive impairment was assessed by global deficit score and Z test and correlated with cerebrospinal fluid drug exposure

“The work I did on this project cemented further my desire to look at the central nervous system in more detail in the context of HIV infection,” she said. “While at UNC, I would like to focus my research on antiretroviral drug penetration into the central nervous system and its effect on neurocognition in a cohort of patients who have just initiated therapy.”

Quantification of antiretroviral penetration into cerebrospinal fluid across the dosing interval is possible with sparse data. In Srinivas’ small study, an increased cerebrospinal-fluid–darunavir boosted-with-ritonavir exposure was associated with poorer neurocognition and warrants further investigation.

Srinivas will be recognized in San Diego, California, in March at the ASCPT annual meeting to receive the award and participate in the showcase and poster display.

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