Biobehavioral Assessment and Research Center

Two men holding hands

The Biobehavioral Assessment and Research Center (BARC) promotes research on high impact science that the National Institute of Health (NIH) have identified as high-priority areas of public health research. With a team of multi-disciplinary investigators, BARC utilizes and develops innovative biobehavioral and technological approaches that integrate behavioral measures/markers into intervention studies, prevention trials, and clinical science. BARC also supports incorporation of clinical and basic biomarkers into behavioral research and prevention science.


The Biobehavioral Assessment and Research Center (BARC) stands at the forefront of merging biomarkers and behavioral measures for research and prevention science. BARC has unique expertise in the areas of sexual health, substance use and infectious diseases (especially sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS), epidemiological methods, qualitative assessments, laboratory-based biomarkers, and mobile tools.

Co-led by Drs. Pamina M. Gorbach and Marjan Javanbakht, BARC has a proven record of sustained funding from multiple sources. Drs. Gorbach and Javanbakht are committed to training the next generation of public health researchers and support trainees to develop the skills necessary for independent research careers in translational science that utilize biobehavioral assessment.

Projects & Substudies

BARC's projects and substudies include:

  • Exploring, Predicting, and Intervening on Long-term Viral suppression Electronically (EPI-LoVE)

Grant: R01 AI104709 MPIs: Gorbach, P (UCLA); Hightow-Weidman, L (FSU); Young, S (UCI)

This study will: 1) determine how to optimally enroll and retain a large diverse digital cohort of 1,000 people living with HIV (PLWH) struggling to engage in or stay with care and maintain consistent viral suppression (VS); 2) understand trajectories of care engagement and apply modeling to predict cyclical non VS and support return to care and VS, and 3) pilot test digital interventional strategies to promote engagement in care and VS. 

Funder: National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

  • mSTUDY: Minority Men Who have Sex With Men Cohort at UCLA Linking Infections Noting Effects (MASCULINE)

Grant: U01DA036267 (PI: Dr. Gorbach and Dr. Shoptaw)

mSTUDY is nearly a 10-year research study being conducted at two sites in Los Angeles: The Los Angeles LGBT Center and the UCLA Vine Street Clinic. This study investigates: (i) the effects of substance use on the acquisition of HIV and other STIs, (ii) the role substance use plays in the transmission of HIV, (iii) the effect of substance use on HIV disease progression; and interactions between substance use and HIV infection on the inflammatory response, and mucosal environment.

Funder: National Institute on Drug Abuse

For more information, visit:

  • Longitudinal serological evaluation of exposure to mpox in persons engaged in sex trades, 2023

Grant: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

This project will leverage existing partnerships with clinics where people who engage in sex work seek sexual healthcare to recruit a cohort for serological evaluation in Los Angeles.

MPIs: Gorbach P, Rimoin A, and Talan D

  • Charles Drew University (CDU) / University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Center for AIDS Research (CFAR): Translational Research on Substance Use Scientific Working Groups (TRSU SWG)

Grant: 1P30AI152501-01A1 (PI/PD: Dr. Jerome Zack, Dr. Lashonda Spencer, and Dr. Judith Currier)

The CDU/UCLA CFAR TRSU SWG is a Program Section that fosters translational science amongst basic scientists, behavioral scientists, and substance use researchers in an effort to end the HIV epidemic.

Funder: National Institute of Health / National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAD)

  • Center for HIV Identification, Prevention, and Treatment Services (CHIPTS)

Grant: P30 MH058107 (PI: Dr. Steve Shoptaw)

CHIPTS’ mission is to eliminate new HIV infections by promoting research, fostering networking, and supporting capacity building, with an emphasis on key populations who face comorbidities. Both domestically and globally, CHIPTS has expertise in HIV program administration, junior faculty and trainee development, policy impact and evaluation, and innovation in interventions to optimize care and treatment of HIV- infected individuals and to expand prevention opportunities for HIV-uninfected at-risk individuals.

Funder: National Institute of Mental Health

For more information, click here.

  • A Randomized Crossover Study to Evaluate the Efficacy of Antibacterial Mouthwash in Preventing Pharyngeal Gonorrhea Among High-Risk Populations

Grant: R21 AI147969 (PI: Dr. Marjan Javanbakht)

This is a randomized crossover study to evaluate the efficacy of antibacterial mouthwash in preventing pharyngeal gonorrhea among a cohort of HIV-positive and high-risk HIV- negative men.

Funder: National Institute of Health / National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

  • Activity spaces for HIV risk and prevention among diverse men who have sex with men in Los Angeles

Grant: R21 DA049643 (PI: Dr. Sussie Cassels)

This project’s overarching aim of our work is to establish innovative ways to determine and prioritize geographic risk hotspots for HIV intervention among AA and Latinx MSM.

Funder: National Institute of Health / National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

  • South American Prevention of HIV Research (SAPHIR) Training Program

Grant: R25 MH087222 (PI: Dr. Jesse Clarke)

The SAPHIR program provides a year-long program of structured didactic education and mentored research training in one of the main fields of HIV prevention in Latin America (Epidemiology, Behavioral Prevention, Biomedical Prevention, Antiretroviral Therapy, and Basic/Translational Prevention Science).

Funder: National Institute of Mental Health

  • Evaluating the PrEP cascade in HIV-negative pregnant and breastfeeding women in South Africa (PrEP-PP)

Grant: R01 MH116771 (PI: Dr. Dvora Davey Joseph and Dr. Benjamin Myer)

Major Goals: The PrEP-PP study goals are to evaluate pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) initiation, retention, adherence, and outcomes in a cohort of 1200 pregnant and breastfeeding women in two South African antenatal/postnatal care systems. The study will evaluate patient and provider-level factors associated with the PrEP cascade to inform future PrEP in pregnancy interventions to prevent maternal HIV acquisition and onward HIV transmission. 

Funder: National Institute of Health / National Institute of Mental Health

  • Microbiome and Mucosal Immune Interactions in the Pathogenesis of HIV- 1 Transmission

Grant: 5K08AI124979-04 (PI: Dr. Jennifer Fulcher)

This study looks at the increased HIV acquisition risk due to substance use resulting from pro-inflammatory alterations of the intestinal microbiome and/or direct effects on the inflammatory state of the mucosa.

Funder: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

  • Epidemiologic Impact of HPV Vaccination

Grant: R01 AI104709 (PI: Dr. Jessica Kahn)

Major Goals: A study to examine herd immunity and type replacement after HPV vaccine introduction in a community.

Funder: National Institute of Health / National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

  • The Impact of Conditional Cash Transfers and Primary Health Care on HIV/AIDS Outcomes: An Integrated Retrospective and Forecasting Approach Based on a Cohort of 100million Brazilians

Grant: R01 AI152938 (PI: Dr. James Macinko)

This study will contribute to knowledge on the impact of large-scale initiatives addressing both the social and medical determinants of the health of people living with HIV/AIDS by combining data from Brazil’s national HIV/AIDS registry with 3 other databases to perform retrospective impact evaluations and to use the results to build an integrated microsimulation and agent-based model to predict future impacts under a range of plausible policy scenarios.

Funder: National Institute of Health / National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

  • Understanding the joint effects of methamphetamine use and HIV on systemic cytokine concentrations and sexual risk behavior

Grant: 5K23DA054004-02 (PI: Dr. Cherie Blair)

This study will investigate the joint effects of methamphetamine use, HIV, sexual risk behavior, and rectal gonorrhea/chlamydia (GC/CT) on systemic and rectal inflammation.

Funder: National Institute On Drug Abuse