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Career Profile: Epidemiologist - Victoria A. Cargill

Career Profile: Epidemiologist - Victoria A. Cargill

Victoria A. Cargill, M.D., M.S.C.E., Epidemiologist, Director of Minority Research and Clinical Studies, Office of AIDS Research, National Institutes of Health

National Institutes of Health: Office of Science Education


An important aspect of my work as an epidemiologist is to review our research portfolio. I focus on research related to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), which is the virus responsible for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS. By collaborating with scientists inside and outside of the NIH, we can identify gaps in our research portfolio, as well as, identify areas to advance our understanding of HIV infection in racial and ethnic minorities. Many times we seek to determine what the new and emerging issues are regarding HIV infection in minorities. We can best determine this based upon the scientist’s preliminary research, and upon the anecdotal evidence that is coming in from community-based organizations, as from my clinical practice, and national meetings.

Other aspects of my work include publishing and coordinating meetings. I frequently publish reports on the issues of recruiting and retaining ethnic minorities in clinical trials, and what can be done to enhance that recruitment. In addition, I coordinate meetings for minority investigators that aim to assist them in developing research skills.

My Roles

Physician – I maintain clinical activity and see patients one-half day per week at a local clinic.

Speaker – I speak before a number of different audiences. Sometimes, I may address a national meeting of health providers who wish to learn more about HIV/AIDS in minority communities and the challenges of treatment and care. One example was my presentation to the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS last August. Other times, I speak to large groups, such as the staff from community-based organizations who are serving on the frontlines of medicine to meet the needs of people with HIV. I speak to high school and college students about their goals and what science has to offer as a career. I also speak to minority investigators to help them understand what is expected of them as an NIH sponsored researcher.

Supervisor – As the section director, I supervise three individuals. Two staff members are program analysts who review data from research studies and also assist me in the preparation of slides and background materials. A third person is an analyst trainee, learning to read documents critically, and to prepare a background analysis of a specific issue or question.

Mentor – I am a mentor in the more informal sense. I have become a repository of information, support, and a networking resource for many minority investigators, around the country, who wish to embark upon a career of HIV/AIDS research.

What I like best/least about my work …

What I like best about my work is the daily challenge it presents intellectually. There is so much to learn in the field of HIV/AIDS. With daily changes and new discoveries, it is a full time job just to remain current.

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