Brown University epidemiologist Brandon Marshall is one of the first six scientists to earn a newly created award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. He will use the funding, $1.5 million over five years, for an innovative study of injection drug use and its role in the spread of HIV.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — The National Institute on Drug Abuse calls a new award program “Avenir,” which means “future” in French, because it is meant to support innovative new ideas from young scientists. Brandon Marshall, assistant professor of epidemiology at Brown, is one of the first six researchers nationwide to win an Avenir award.

“The innovative proposals by these young scientists in the fields of HIV/AIDS and epigenetics are very exciting,” said Dr. Nora D. Volkow, the NIDA director. “We’re pleased to support these creative approaches and are looking forward to seeing the results of their research.”

Marshall’s project is titled, “Highly Adaptive Epidemic Control Strategies for HIV Prevention in Drug Users.” He will receive $300,000 a year for the next five years for the study, which will use computer simulations to help design HIV prevention programs for people who inject drugs.

“Injection drug use is a leading cause of HIV infection outside of sub-Saharan Africa and is responsible for about 4,000 new HIV infections each year in the United States alone,” he said. “With this award, I will determine how different public health programs should be scaled up to prevent new HIV infections among people who inject drugs. My research group will use computer microsimulations to determine how prevention strategies can best be tailored to HIV epidemics in major cities across the United States. This project will help guide programs that are more efficient, better targeted, and more responsive to the needs of drug-using communities.”