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Year In Review: Looking Back At The Fenway Institute’s 2020 Accomplishments

2020 has been a year unlike any other in recent memory. The COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented challenges to the global medical research community. We would like to take this opportunity to share some of the truly incredible work The Fenway Institute staff has accomplished this year, both in response to and in spite of the pandemic.

From COVID-19 vaccine research trials to groundbreaking HIV prevention work, The Fenway Institute remained focused on our mission to optimize health and well-being for sexual and gender minorities (SGM) and those affected by HIV. Here are some of the highlights of The Institute’s work in 2020.

Several of our incredible Institute faculty and staff received awards and fellowships, were appointed to committees, or finished advanced degrees in 2020:

  • Ken Mayer, MD was named the recipient of The History Project’s 2020 HistoryMaker Award for his significant impact through researching, mentoring, teaching, and providing care to people living with HIV. The press release can be found here.
  • Jennifer Potter, MD was named the recipient of the Harvard Medical School Class of 2020 Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award
  • Alex Keuroghlian, MD, MPH and Jennifer Potter, MD were named Co-faculty Directors of Harvard Medical School’s Sexual and Gender Minority Health Equity Initiative
  • Alex Keuroghlian and co-authors Jack L. Turban, Dana King (Data/Informatics team) and Jeremi M. Carswell received recognition for their article titled Pubertal Suppression for Transgender Youth and Risk of Suicidal Ideation, which made the list of 10 Best Pediatrics Articles of 2020. Pediatrics is the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. 
  • Stephanie Loo (Data/Informatics team) achieved candidacy status for her PhD at Boston University School of Public Health; Health Services Research PhD.
  • Matthew Mimiaga, ScD, was appointed Inaugural Director of the UCLA Center for LGBTQ Advocacy, Research, and Health.
  • David Pantalone, PhD was elected as a Fellow of Division 50 (Addictions) of the American Psychological Association.
  • Sari Reisner, PhD Research Scientist and Director of Transgender Health Research was appointed to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine committee to conduct a follow-up of the groundbreaking 2011 IOM report on LGBTI+ research. The updated report was released in October 2020.


The Fenway Institute’s accomplishments this year were achieved through the collaborative efforts of our faculty and staff and included widespread dissemination of our work, success in grant-making for new work, and moving forward with our strategic plan. In 2020, our teams:

  • Launched 12 new projects, representing over $12M in funding. Examples include:
    • Pioneer Valley Trans ECHO distance learning program for care providers in western Massachusetts to develop expertise on providing care for transgender and gender diverse patients and clients in western Massachusetts
    • The first Annual Judy Bradford Memorial LGBTQIA+ Women’s Health Research Conference bringing together community members, healthcare providers, and researchers to discuss strategies to improve engagement in primary and mental and behavioral healthcare among LGBTQIA+ women.
  • Published over 150 articles in journals such as The Lancet, American Journal of Public Health, and others, on subjects related to sexual and gender minority health.
  • Presented over 50 talks or abstracts at national and international conferences such as the International AIDS Society (IAS), and the American Public Health Association including one by Amy Ben-Arieh, our Director of Research Compliance, at the Harvard Longwood IRB gathering titled “Towards a More Inclusive Research Ethic” describing the Fenway IRB’s review framework, ethical justification, and regulatory rationale that includes consideration of sexual orientation and gender diversity.
  • Were quoted nearly 2,000 times by media including national networks such as National Public Ra Examples include:
    • Features by Dr. Julia Marcus on using a harm reduction framework to communicate COVID risk to the public.
    • Highlights of our third annual policy brief written by our Health Policy team on the Trump Administration’s policies toward LGBT equality, LGBT health, and HIV policy.
  • Mentored over 15 students from universities including Northeastern, Boston, and Tufts Universities.
  • Renewed the National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center Cooperative Agreement through 2023, and continued its current work including hosting two virtual conferences on LGBTQIA+ and Transgender Health care, hosting over 800 people from around the world, and putting a spotlight on intersex health care with the Ed Division’s report.
  • Advocated successfully for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to add sexual orientation and gender identity fields to the Mass. Virtual Epidemiology Network (MAVEN).
  • Participated in Fenway Health organizational initiatives, including the Data team’s rapid work to operationalize Telehealth capabilities with the clinical departments during COVID. Ten Institute staff members were appointed to committees including the new Racial Justice and Equity Collaborative, The Health Equity Task Force, the Employee Advisory Council and key personnel searches.


The Fenway Institute is engaged in dozens of research studies. A few highlights of this year’s research include:

  • Successful re-competition for the Boston AIDS Clinical Trial Unit, which is the only New England part of the NIH’s HIV-related clinical research network. The new grant will run through 2025 and will support clinical trials of new HIV prevention approaches, such as PrEP and monoclonal antibodies. Boston partner sites included MGH, BWH, and BIDMC.
  • The COVID Vaccine and Prevention Network (CoVPN) – The Institute joined this new network, and is participating in several COVID research trials including the AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine Trial.
  • LITEPlus – This two year, longitudinal study looks at how stigma and discrimination faced by Black and Latina transgender women living with HIV impacts their stress and cardiovascular health.
  • Life+Health Study – This collaborative study with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Mattapan Community Health Center is designed to advance novel methods of measuring and analyzing multiple forms of discrimination for population health research, enrolling over 1,000 patients between the two health centers.
  • NHBS – The National HIV Behavioral Surveillance (NHBS) team has embarked on a qualitative evaluation in lieu of traditional fieldwork for 2020. The evaluation focuses on queer people of color in the Boston area and seeks to better understand the links between sexual networking, HIV prevention and COVID-19.
  • New PrEP modalities – A research grant from Merck, Inc. allowed us to study product preferences of young men who have sex with men.
  • PrEP for Health – This NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) funded grant is enrolling 200 people who inject drugs at two syringe service programs in Lawrence and Boston/Cambridge, Massachusetts (AIDS Action) to test the efficacy of the “PrEP for Health” intervention on PrEP uptake, adherence and persistence.
  • Next Generation PrEP for Youth: –This mixed methods study (i.e., focus groups and an online survey) to assess awareness, interest and preferences for PrEP modalities currently under development or at various stages of testing (e.g., once monthly oral PrEP, implantable PrEP, etc.) among young men who have sex with men.


We are grateful for our colleagues across Fenway Health, and for our partners outside of Fenway Health, who work with us to make all of this happen. We look forward to the great work and new opportunities for research advancements that 2021 will bring.


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