Who is eligible to participate in the program?

The SAPHIR program is designed for emerging physician researchers from the U.S. We anticipate that most SAPHIR trainees will participate in the program either between their third and fourth years of medical school, or after completing Residency but before beginning Fellowship training.  All trainees are required to have completed their core clinical clerkships before starting the program.  Anyone who has completed core clerkships at a U.S. medical school and has not yet begun Fellowship Training is eligible to apply.

What areas of HIV prevention research does SAPHIR include?

We consider the field of HIV prevention to include a diverse range of research areas, including Behavioral Prevention (e.g., Risk behavior modification), Biomedical Prevention (e.g., Pre- and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis, Microbicides), Therapeutics (e.g., Antiretroviral therapy and complications), Epidemiology (e.g., Epidemiology of HIV, STIs, and associated risk behaviors), Basic/Translational Science (e.g., Vaccine research, molecular epidemiology, and laboratory diagnostics), and Health Policy (e.g., Public policy of access to treatment and operations research of health services).  Each trainee will be paired with mentors focusing on a specific area of research, but will receive a broad educational overview of all aspects of HIV prevention through the didactic program. For more information on SAPHIR institutions and mentors, see the Program Faculty list.

What institutions are part of the SAPHIR network?

The SAPHIR network is coordinated by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and includes the Fundacao Oswaldo Cruz-Instituto de Pesquisa Clinica Evandro Chagas (IPEC-Fiocruz) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and the Asociacion Civil Impacta Salud y Educacion, the Asociacion Civil Via Libre, the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (UPCH), and the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit-6, all in Lima, Peru.  Collectively, these organizations have played a central role in research on HIV diagnosis, prevention and treatment in Latin America.  For more information on SAPHIR institutions and mentors, see the Program Faculty list.

How is the program structured?

The SAPHIR program is divided into three components: 1) Core Curriculum; 2) Continuing Education Curriculum; and 3) Mentored Research Experience.

Core Curriculum: All SAPHIR trainees will participate in an introductory core curriculum on the UCLA campus at the beginning of the training program.  This two-week intensive program will provide a basic overview of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Clinical Aspects of HIV/STI Research, Socio-Behavioral Aspects of HIV/STI Research, and Ethics of Research in International Settings. 

Continuing Education Curriculum: Throughout the SAPHIR program, trainees will participate in a weekly series of continuing education didactic lectures and conferences further exploring the themes introduced in the core curriculum.  Conferences will include Seminars in Ethics of Research in International Settings, Journal Club, and Faculty and Trainee Research Presentations.

Mentored Research Experience: Each trainee will develop an individualized research plan in collaboration with their mentors.  The research plan will be tailored to trainees’ individual interests, background, and goals, and is required to include two key components: 1) Analysis of an existing data set and preparation of an abstract suitable for presentation at an academic conference; and 2) Preparation of an original research proposal.  After completing these core requirements, trainees will determine (in conjunction with their mentors) how to dedicate the remainder of their time in the SAPHIR program.  Depending on each individual trainee’s goals and background, their additional training plan may focus on development of their abstract into a manuscript suitable for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, or on the implementation of their research proposal as an actual research study.

Who are the SAPHIR faculty mentors?

For information on SAPHIR program Faculty and areas of research interest, please see “SAPHIR Program Faculty.”

Will I have the opportunity to publish my research?

Yes, a key goal of the SAPHIR program is to encourage trainees to complete research suitable for publication in abstract form at international scientific conferences and/or as a manuscript in a peer-reviewed journal. To date, all SAPHIR graduates have presented at least one abstract and have at least one first-author publication published or under review.

How will I be evaluated?

All SAPHIR trainees will undergo a series of regular meetings to review their progress with their mentors as well as the Program staff.  Core program deliverables (the abstract and research proposal) will be reviewed by a faculty committee and trainees will be provided with a written summary of the reviewers’ feedback. On completion of the program, all SAPHIR trainees will undergo a comprehensive end-of-year evaluation.

Will I receive a degree for completing the program?

No, SAPHIR is not a degree-granting program.  All trainees will be provided with a Certificate of Completion upon successfully completing the program.

Is foreign language proficiency required?

No.  Knowledge of Spanish or Portuguese is an asset and may influence selection of potential mentors, however it is not required.  Trainees without a working knowledge of the relevant language will be encouraged to complete regular language classes, at their own expense, in order to improve their skills while in the SAPHIR program.

Is research or international experience necessary?

No.  The SAPHIR program is designed to provide physician trainees with a concentrated research background and prepare them for competitive post-doctoral Fellowship programs.  Although some background in research and/or international work would be helpful to trainees, it is not a requirement.

What is the cost of living stipend?

All trainees will be provided with a stipend to help cover the cost of living expenses (housing, meals, local transportation) during the training program.  Stipend levels for the 2020-21 year have not been announced. Current stipend levels range from $25,000-$30,000 according to geographic site and level of training.

What about transportation expenses?

All SAPHIR trainees will be provided with round-trip airfare from their hometown to Los Angeles and from Los Angeles to their international site. 

Where will I live?

Trainees will be provided with temporary housing in Los Angeles during the Core Curriculum.  Upon arrival in their international site, program staff are available to assist trainees in finding affordable housing in the host city.

I will be applying for Residency/Fellowship during the SAPHIR program.  Will I be able to return to the U.S. for my interviews?

Yes, all SAPHIR trainees who must return to the U.S. to participate in interviews or other work-related obligations will be given permission to do so.  Whenever possible, trainees will be expected to consolidate their interviews within a fixed period of time (e.g., 1 month) and to maintain regular contact with their mentors and to continue progress on their research project during this time.  Trainees who anticipate requiring significant time away (e.g., more than 1 month) from their international site for any reason should not apply.

What is the SAPHIR application process?

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. There are no application fees or other costs.  Promising candidates will be invited for a telephone and/or internet-based interview with SAPHIR faculty.  Please do not independently contact SAPHIR faculty to discuss your interest in the program or potential research projects.  Accepted applicants will be matched with mentors at the time of selection. 

To begin the application process, please complete the electronic application form and return it with the required recommendations and supporting documents to: SAPHIR@mednet.ucla.eduElectronic applications are preferred, though printed applications and/or recommendations can also be submitted by mail to:

Jesse Clark, SAPHIR Program Director

UCLA Geffen School of Medicine

Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases

10833 Le Conte Ave. CHS 37-121

Los Angeles, CA 90095

If you have any additional questions, please email us at SAPHIR@mednet.ucla.edu

The SAPHIR program is funded by the NIH/NIMH R25 MH 087222.


Applications for the 2020-21 class are now being accepted on a rolling basis.