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About Project WISH

Project WISH is a clinical research site of the Division of Infectious Disease at the University of Illinois Chicago, with a 20+ year history of conducting clinical trials and basic science research for the prevention and treatment of many infectious diseases. Some recent trials are: COVID-19 vaccines, COVID-19 monoclonal antibody cocktails, COVID-19 treatments, HIV prevention vaccines, HIV PrEP, antiretroviral treatments for HIV, vaccines to prevent HPV and herpes infections and observational studies of influenza.

Richard Novak

Richard Novak, Principal Investigator
Dr. Novak is a Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine. He is an internationally recognized clinical scientist whose leadership, accomplishments, and vision for the prevention and treatment of HIV disease have contributed tremendously to our understanding of the disease. He is actively involved with HIV clinical research focused on treatment strategies which have directly shaped current treatment guidelines. He also serves as the Director of the UIC HIV Community Clinic Network: a network of seven Ryan White HIV community based primary care clinics throughout Chicago, which he founded in 1992 in collaboration with the School of Public Health. This program has been supported by nearly $24 million in federal (HRSA) funding since its inception.

Stockton Mayer, Co-Investigator

Stockton Mayer, Co-Investigator
Dr. Mayer is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Department of Infectious Disease. Dr. Mayer’s areas of clinical interest include Infections in Immunocompromised Hosts and Tropical Medicine. His scholarly activity focuses on HIV education and prevention in Latin America. Dr. Mayer directs Internal Medicine’s Urban and Global Health Residency Track, coordinating projects in Chicago, The Dominican Republic, and India. He also serves as an instructor for the Tropical Medicine Elective hosted in the Dominican Republic. Prior to embarking on a career in medicine, Dr. Mayer served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and worked as a consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton’s International and Infrastructure Team.

Andrew Trotter

Andrew Trotter, Co-Investigator
Dr. Trotter practices in the Division of Infectious Diseases at UI Health. Dr. Trotter’s clinical interests focus on the care of people living with HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, tuberculosis, sexually transmitted infections, and other infectious diseases. He completed his Infectious Diseases Fellowship at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, where his research focused on HIV drug resistance in resource-limited settings. Dr. Trotter has a particular interest in approaches to providing medical care to underserved populations and he has been involved in global health projects in Namibia, India, and Nepal.

Stephanie Martin, Research Nurse Administrator

Stephanie Martin, RN, BA has served as the Research Nurse Administrator at Project WISH since September 2017. Stephanie’s diverse professional background includes over 30 years of experience as a Registered Nurse in a variety of settings in Illinois, Oregon, Hawai’i and Texas. She has over 25 years of experience conducting and managing pharmaceutical clinical research trials. She founded and operated an independent Clinical Research Site Management Organization in Oregon, Advanced Clinical Trials, Inc. for over 9 years. While in Hawai’i she was awarded First Place, Outstanding Employee of the Year 2009 for her work and accomplishments as the Addictions Research Nurse/Program Manager at the Pacific Addiction Research Center (PARC), a Program of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Hawai’i’s John A. Burns School of Medicine. She later worked as a Vaccines for Children (VFC) RN Field Reviewer for the Immunization Branch of the Hawai’i Department of Health. Following her return to the Mainland, Stephanie served as the Immunization Program Manager for Health Service Region 6/5 South at the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Regina Harden, Clinic Coordinator

Regina has been working in the clinical research field since for over 20 years. As a Research Information Specialist at the University of Illinois, she has collected data from participants who were recruited to potentially participate in a future vaccine trial (HIV Vaccine Preparedness Study). Regina conducted the research and documented findings for statistical use in the analysis for vaccine use as a mean of preventing HIV infections. Regina is currently the Research Clinic Coordinator for Project WISH at the University of Illinois. She has been working here at the University of Illinois, Project WISH, since 2002 and coordinated several research studies. Currently, she is coordinating several trials, VICAL trial for HSV2 patients, Reprieve A5332 a trial to prevent vascular events in HIV infected patients, Merck1439A-021 treatment trial for HIV treatment naïve patients and Merck 1439A-024 study to evaluate a switch to MK-1439A in HIV infected patients, INSIGTH START (strategic timing of antiretroviral treatment) trial. She has previously worked on Genocea 003-002b for HSV2 participants, who were previous in Genocea 003-002, Merck V503-03 (HPV Vaccine Trial- Phase III) and also the HVTN Pathogenesis study. She has also coordinated HVTN 906, HVTN 023 STEP Study (Phase III Vaccine Trial), Merck V520-016 (Phase I), Merck V520-027 (Phase IIa), and VaxGen 004 (HIV Vaccine Trial- Phase III).

Charles Peterson, Manager, Community Engagement & Clinical Research Education

Charlie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, from Harvard University. With a background heavy in continuing medical education, patient education, and strategic medical publications planning, Charlie seeks to not only further ensconce UIC in community activities, but truly wants to set up long-term partnerships with other healthcare organizations (Center on Halsted, Howard Brown Health, Chicago City Colleges/Malcolm X, Red PAES Promotoras de Salud, to name a few), community groups (LGBTQIA+, LatinX, African American, Asian American, Pacific Islander, Desi, etc), to provide for the communities needs (housing insecurity, food insecurity, clothing needs, linkage to medical care, dental care, etc), and to serve the community through health care education, teaching self-advocacy, and through clinical research education.

Rich Morrissy, Regulatory Affairs Specialist

Rich is the Regulatory Affairs Specialist for Project WISH. He is a graduate of Western Illinois University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts. Rich has worked in a variety of industries such as banking, accounting, purchasing, marketing and advertising. He has been in research since 1991, working on a range of medical, social and public health studies at various institutions including Hines VA Hospital and Northwestern University. Rich has been with UIC since 1997 in the School of Public Health, Occupational Therapy, the College of Pharmacy and the College of Medicine departments of surgery and infectious diseases doing regulatory work and study coordination.

Wardrick “Rodd” Nealon, Outreach Specialist

Rodd is an Outreach Specialist at Project WISH and has been a part of the organization for nearly 2 years. As an outreach specialist, Rodd focuses on the recruitment and retention of clinical trial participants for prevention and treatment studies. Rodd has a strong tie to the community fosters recruitment and linkage to care efforts for Project WISH. He reaches out to clients who are lost to follow ups in addition to calling clients and bring them into the clinic to make sure they are safe. He is a graduate of Mac Murray College where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychical Education and Sport Management. Prior to joining Project WISH, he worked as a Mental Health Specialists at Allendale Associate for 4 years advocating for high risk emotional behavioral children. He is also a member of Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association (CMSA) within the LGBTQ community for over 8 years.

Renyce Powell, Study Coordinator

Renyce is a Linkage to Care Specialist at Project WISH and Project HEAL. Prior to joining Project WISH, she worked as an IT assistant at Microsoft. She also volunteers at that YMCA mentoring young adults. Her research interest focuses on social and medical care for people living with HIV/AIDS with a mental health focus on the LGBTQ+ community. Her linkage to care role involves a mixed approach to foster retention efforts clinical care and research trials at Project WISH. She is also is responsible for linking newly diagnosed HIV patients into medical and social care. Most importantly, she listens to understand the needs of the community. She will be pursuing a social work degree in Spring 2020.

Marla Schwarber, Research Nurse

Marla Schwarber, RN, ACRN has been a research nurse at Project WISH since 2013 serving as coordinator for the Insight Influenza studies. Prior to that, she began her career in critical care at Wishard Memorial Hospital (now Eskanazi Health) in Indianapolis. After moving to Chicago, she worked in the Apheresis Unit at American Red Cross followed by 30 years in Ambulatory Care at UIC in a variety of clinical specialties, spending the last 20 plus years in HIV care in the Family Center for Infectious Diseases and in Primary Care for Adults and Children. She earned her ACRN (AIDS Certified Registered Nurse) in 1996. Following her retirement in 2012, she worked at MATEC (Midwest Aids Training and Education Center) providing program support and performing clinical audits. She has also provided staff support in a community-based HIV clinic for the UCCN (UI Health Community Clinic Network) in addition to her work with Project WISH.

Ariel Zuckerman, Research Nurse

Ariel Zuckerman is a research nurse at Project WISH and has been with the organization for 2 years. Prior to that, she worked at the Community Health free clinic in Humboldt Park for 4 years and with Amigos de las Americas, an international development organization in Mexico and Paraguay. Her clinical interests are in HIV and emergency care, as well as international and local public health work with migrants. She is currently pursuing her Master’s in Public Health in Community Health Sciences.