Bio-Behavioral and Community Science Core

The Bio-Behavioral and Community Science Core provides consultation services to HU CFAR members on the behavioral and social science aspects of HIV prevention and treatment, with the goal of supporting investigators and stimulating cross-disciplinary, cross-Harvard, and community collaborations.  The Core also provides support for opportunities to add behavioral and social science projects to existing biomedical studies, and promotes community-based-participatory research and community engagement for HU CFAR’s Community Programs


  • Review of grant applications: the core provides consultation on and review of grant applications with a behavioral/social science component for both external grants (e.g. NIH) and internal grants (e.g. CFAR Developmental Awards).  Applicants are asked to consult with the Core ~6 weeks before their application deadline.

  • Community-based-participatory research (CBPR):  Strong academic-community partnerships can facilitate and hasten the reach of new technologies into communities, and can help to reduce health disparities.  The Core serves as a link between HU CFAR’s researchers and the HU CFAR Community Advisory Boards via HU CFAR’s Community Programs to help researchers integrate CBPR into their work, and to ensure that community priorities are being addressed in HU CFAR research.   

  • Development of Conceptual/theoretical models: the core provides expertise to ensure that research is driven by a logical conceptual model that justifies the study, demonstrates its place in the literature, shows its significance and innovation, and guides the measurement plan. Behavioral/social science researchers are knowledgeable about the range of theories applicable to behavioral HIV research. 

  • Survey Assessment: the core has expertise in the methods necessary for survey development and delivery services on a wide scale.  When valid and reliable measures do not exist for a particular construct, context, or culture, measures must be developed.  The core provides expertise and guidance to develop valid behavioral/social science measures relevant to HIV research.

  • Qualitative and mixed methods: Qualitative research is used to understand the context or develop a theory behind behaviors, and as a first step in intervention development (e.g., to identify potential interventions, to collect data on acceptability of a new behavioral intervention or biomedical technology).  The core provides consultation on qualitative protocol development, data collection, and analysis methods.

  • Behavioral intervention development: The Core provides services on the entire continuum of behavioral intervention development: 1) developing and testing a conceptual model of why the negative behavior is occurring in the context and population (using literature reviews, mixed methods), 2) piloting the intervention with feedback from community, stakeholders, and participants, 3) finalizing the intervention, 4) conducting a pilot randomized trial, 5) conducting efficacy studies, 6) conducting effectiveness studies, 7) conducting dissemination and implementation studies.