Translational Neuropharmacology Group

TNG Logo.

Who we are

Group Leader


  • David Haas, Vanderbilt University (more here)
  • Scott Letendre, University of California San Diego (more here)
  • Supriya Mahajan, University at Buffalo (more here)
  • Giovanni Schifitto, University of Rochester (more here)
  • Charles Venuto, University of Rochester (more here)

What we do

We focus on pharmacological mechanisms underlying HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders and mental health issues, as well as the optimization and development of pharmacological interventions potentially used to treat these conditions.

  • Neurological disorders in the elderly have been identified as a critical challenge in the context of HIV infection. HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders affect up to 70% of HIV-infected individuals and is associated with a lower quality of life and a serious threat to human health. Even though the development of potent antiretroviral therapy is considered one of the greatest accomplishments of medicine which greatly extended the life expectancy, in the past two decades, there has been a marked increase in the incidence of neurological disorders among individuals with HIV infection. Unfortunately, there is a remarkable lack of understanding of the pathogenesis or a strategy to develop effective therapeutic interventions. Importantly, research on neurological comorbidities and substance use disorders has become a priority.
  • Our focus has been an integrated approach to address this very difficult problem involving translational pharmacology, neurocognitive assessment, genetics, and pharmacokinetics to optimize the beneficial effects of combination antiretroviral therapy in the central nervous system and apply our experiences to the development of new regimens for treatment and prevention of neurological complications of HIV.  These questions are being addressed in the laboratory and small clinical trials, however, the results cannot be extrapolated to a more complex patient population. The gaps between the drug development literature and clinical practice serve as a continuous stimulus for translational research. Given the multiple challenges faced by people living with HIV as they age, there are numerous opportunities for optimizing anti-HIV medication use and treatment outcomes.

Our connections to the ACTG Neurology Collaborative Science Group

  • Translational Neuropharmacology Group members serve the ACTG Neurology Collaborative Science Group and other Groups as Chair (Letendre),  Investigators (Ma and Schifitto), and Pharmacologists (Venuto and Haas) .

Our connections to the Center for Health + Technology (CHeT)

  • Translational Neuropharmacology Group members serve the CHeT as faculty members.  
  • Major clinical studies: Large-scale identification of clinical and genetic predictors of motor progression in patients with newly diagnosed Parkinson's disease: a longitudinal cohort study and validation

Learn more about the group here:


Recent Publications

  • Development and validation of an LC-MS/MS assay for tenofovir and tenofovir alafenamide in human plasma and cerebrospinal fluid. J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2018;156:163-169.
  • Race/Ethnicity and the Pharmacogenetics of Reported Suicidality With Efavirenz Among Clinical Trials Participants. J Infect Dis. 2017;216:554-564.
  • Pharmacokinetic, Pharmacogenetic, and Other Factors Influencing CNS Penetration of Antiretrovirals. AIDS Res Treat. 2016;2016:2587094.
  • Long-term efavirenz use is associated with worse neurocognitive functioning in HIV-infected patients. J Neurovirol. 2016;22:170-8.