A recent New York Times article highlights the important role that science can play in international diplomacy and development. This article reports on the positive outcomes of programs to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa. These efforts contributed to better public health in Africa and, according to survey data, have enhanced the perception and reputation of the United States among individuals in the countries where these programs were conducted. This good will is nice, but it is also beneficial to efforts to combat terrorism, and tackle environmental and public health threats that do not respect geographic boundaries.
In 2011 and 2012, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tasked the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) with assessing the merit of research applications submitted in response to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). In partnership with the CDC, AIBS convened peer review panels charged with identifying meritorious applications that would help to achieve the goals of primary prevention of HIV infection, improving the care and treatment of HIV/AIDS, strengthening the capacity of countries to collect and use surveillance data, and developing, validating and/or evaluating public health programs.
This review process brought together some of the world’s foremost experts on HIV/AIDS prevention and monitoring in Africa to select meritorious research applications. These reviews were accomplished using AIBS’ proprietary processes for conducting merit review of proposals. The objective of the reviews was to identify programs with demonstrated success in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment that could be expanded to address this public health problem in Africa. The federal government used the recommendations from these reviews to inform its funding decisions.
AIBS has for decades been committed to promoting the use of the best available information to inform decisions. Our Scientific Peer Advisory and Review Services (SPARS) department works with clients to conduct merit (peer) review of research funding proposals, oversight of ongoing research programs.