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Rachel Bender Ignacio, MD, Director

Rachel Bender Ignacio is an infectious disease physician-scientist and the Director of the UW AIDS Clinical Trials Unit.  She completed medical school and an MPH in epidemiology at the UW. She trained in Internal Medicine at Mass General Hospital/Harvard and briefly held a faculty appointment there prior to returning to UW for Infectious Diseases fellowship. She has been conducting HIV research since 2005, and has worked with partners across in several countries in Latin America, Africa, and in India. The majority of her patient care and research has been focused on the intersection of co-infections, immune activation, and HIV outcomes, and cancer.  Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, she has also taken on significant leadership on COVID-19 treatment research, also serving as the Medical Director of the COVID-19 Clinical Research Center at the Fred Hutch.  She is a Director on the HIV Medicine Association Board. 

Chris Jonsson, Clinic Manager
Raised south of Seattle in Portland, Oregon, Chris started working at Harborview five day after she graduated high school in 1998. A few months later she started at the ACTU four days before she turned 18. During high school, Chris often volunteered in the Madison Clinic helping her mom who was the dietician as well as pharmacy and the front desk. During her time as a volunteer, Chris witnessed the announcement of the first protease inhibitor results at a Madison Clinic community meeting, and it was there when she fell in love with the mood and energy that circulated throughout the room. Although Chris has always been interested in the science behind HIV/AIDS research and enjoys hearing early information released in the clinic, her true passion is in business. She has recently graduated from Seattle University with a Healthcare Executive MBA, Chris runs the business end of the ACTU as the Clinic Manager, working on the grants, budgets, regulatory information, data, and helps coordinate the clinic’s staff.
Lindsay Legg, Research Referral Nurse

ILindsay, born in Texas, earned her nursing degree from Bellingham Technical College and has been at the ACTU since 2011. After working in a nursing home, Lindsay moved to the Madison Clinic because she missed seeing the same patients for extended periods of time and seeing the impact research has had in their lives. From the Madison Clinic, Lindsay moved here where she currently works as a Research Referral Nurse for the Center of Aids Research and Global Health referring patients to ACTU studies, University of Washington studies, and other studies for researchers and organizations all of the United States. Lindsay loves constantly learning about HIV/AIDS and seeing the research studies from the beginning to the end and hopes to one day work on research in Africa.

Kevin Marble, Data Control Technician

Kevin moved into his job as a Data Control Technician in 2004 after being connected by a friend with whom he attend school at the time. As a data tech, Kevin does our data entry, transcribing data from charts created by the clinicians after they have seen patients. Kevin discovered his natural knack for data entry and management, which hen put to work during his time here as he constantly records data from various studies. His stay has been motivated by his love for the work, the sense that he is contributing to constant effort to find the cure, and the great people that surround him at the ACTU.

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Jeffrey Schouten, MD, JD
Jeffrey Schouten, MD, JD, is a clinical investigator at the University of Washington AIDS Clinical Trials Unit and Clinical Associate Professor of Surgery and Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Additionally, he is the Director of the Office of HIV/AIDS Network Coordination (HANC),  based at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, where he provides leadership and strategic direction for all of the cross-network coordination activities that the HANC project encompasses. The HANC Director works closely with the Network Leaders of the NIH HIV/AIDS Clinical Trial Networks and the Division of AIDS to develop and implement strategies to coordinate activities and optimize collaboration between the networks and DAIDS and other funding and operational partners. Jeff has been the HANC Director since September 2008. He is a former general surgeon with a focus on surgical oncology. He has been involved in HIV clinical research and HIV primary care for more than two decades. Jeff also has a strong interest in HIV public policy and the prevention of anal cancer.
Brian Wood, MD

Dr. Wood is Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the University of Washington. He completed medical school and residency at the University of Washington, ID Fellowship at the Partners Program through MGH and Brigham and Women's Hospitals, and was the HIV Clinician-Educator fellow at Brigham and Women's Hospital. He is Medical Director for the Mountain West AETC Project ECHO HIV telehealth program and he cares for persons with HIV at the Harborview Madison Clinic and Madison Satellite Clinics. He has interests in telehealth, medical education, HIV primary care, antiretroviral drug resistance, and antiretroviral side effects.  

Clay Youngblood, BSN, RN

Hello, my name is Claborne, but please call me Clay.   I have been an RN since 2006 and I am originally from Dallas, Texas, but have called Seattle/King County home for the past 11 years.

I have worked in many areas of nursing including surgery, gastroenterology, HIV and infectious disease, healthcare in housing for the DESC and most recently COVID and HIV research at the ACTU.  I also have a masters from the School of Public Health from the University of Washington in information management and informatics.  For fun, I love to be with my pug, Starbuck, and my husband, Kevin.

Ann Collier, MD, Director Emerita

Born in Michigan, Dr. Collier attended Wellesley College for her undergraduate education and completed her degree at Dartmouth Medical School. She went on to intern at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill before finishing her medical residency and infectious disease fellowship at the University of Washington. In 1981, Dr. Collier saw her first AIDS patient in New Hampshire, who she assumed to be her last; she never thought she would see another patient the same symptoms. When Dr. Collier moved out to Seattle to complete her fellowship, she started to see an increasing number of patients with AIDS-related symptoms. From then on, she felt compelled to devoting her work to increasing the quality of treatments so that patients with this newly discovered disease could live their life with ease. Dr. Collier moved into research and helped start the UW AIDS Clinical Trials Unit (ACTU) in 1987. Her motivation to better the lives of people living with HIV and AIDS can be seen in the various articles, journals, and studies she has authored. Seeing the feedback loop that starts from her work and is then seen in a patient’s progression keeps her in this particular field of research. Dr. Collier is a Professor at the UW School of Medicine, currently serves as the Director of the UW ACTU, and is the Associate Director of the UW/Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Center for AIDS Research.

Meredith Potochnic, Pharmacist of Record

Meredith has worked in the ACTU pharmacy since 1997. During her residency at John Hopkins University, Meredith developed an interest in HIV care and investigational drugs. In her training, she was working with early studies looking at AZT as a means to treat HIV. Meredith stayed at John Hopkins to work with investigational drugs and HIV for a few years then decided it was time for a new city with both opportunities and a rock music scene. Meredith moved to Seattle and found her job here as a Pharmacist of Record. Working as a pharmacist for both the ACTU and the Madison Clinic, Meredith gets to see strides forward in HIV/AIDS treatment. To Meredith, it is a privilege to be a part of someone’s care and to try to find answers to questions unsolved. Working in an environment where people truly care about the well-being of their patients is also a big bonus for Meredith.

Katrina Puckett, Lead Pharmacy Technician

A lifelong Seattle-ite, Katrina works at the ACTU as the Lead Pharmacy Technician and an Investigational Pharmacy Technician. She started working in Harborview’s pharmaceutical department in 1991 and, after two years, was recruited by her supervisor for an opening at the ACTU pharmacy. She turned down the job at first but her keen interest in research reminded her that this was a prime opportunity. Katrina accepted the job in ’93 when only two anti-retroviral therapy treatments were on the market. She has steadily seen new drugs come through her pharmacy and help better the health of patients. Since she has started, Katrina has been a valued member of the team and was sent to Peru to oversee the opening of a clinic pharmacy. She is motivated by her co-workers and the progress she has seen over her career in AIDS research.

Mel Padullo, Lab Manager

Born nearby in Bremerton, Mel has worked at the ACTU since 2001. As a graphic arts major, Mel decided to shift directions when she found an opportunity for an opening here. Mel moved into the job as the ACTU’s Lab Manager. Aside from the serious side of the ACTU, Mel finds it hilarious here. The few patients she knows along with her co-workers and her great boss have kept Mel enjoying each day of her work at the ACTU.

Michael Louella, Outreach Coordinator

Michael, previously living in New Orleans, decided to visit Washington where he ended up dancing in a tribal ceremony, and found a calling to move up to Seattle. The first place he set foot in Seattle was Harborview Medical Center on a mission to retrieve his roommate’s key from a friend who worked at the ACTU. In the act of retrieving the key, Michael saw an opening for a front desk job and swiftly moved into the position in 2000. His job quickly evolved from a one-task job into becoming Dr. Collier’s assistant, an administrator, and “the outreach man.” In Pennsylvania, Michael taught English to high-school students, and his teaching background comes to life here whether he is creating a brochure or educating the community on everything HIV and AIDS. When he worked at the front-desk, Michael saw patients come, adhere to their physician’s instructions, and leave – Michael noticed a lack of advocacy for the patients, so he decided to do something about it. He started informal focus groups, increased attendance at Community Advisory Board (CAB) meetings, and further educated every possible person on research and HIV. As the Outreach Coordinator, Michael’s ambition to change the way people see HIV, AIDS, and research can be seen in the strength of the community to which he tends.

Joanne Stekler, MD

Joanne has worked with the UW ACTU for over two decades, first as staff physician from 2000-2002, as Investigator of Record for the NEXT-PrEP study (an evaluation of maraviroc as HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis), and she has most recently returned to help us out with study visits. Dr. Stekler is a national expert in HIV testing, focusing on detection of acute HIV infection and point-of-care HIV tests, including point-of-care nucleic acid tests. After FTC/TDF was approved as PrEP in 2012, she started the first community-based PrEP clinic at Gay City in Seattle, and she has since expanded that work to a Seattle bathhouse and to other Seattle-based community organizations. She works to expand access to populations disproportionately impacted by HIV in the United States and support PrEP adherence and persistence. She is interested in eHealth and mHealth strategies for HIV care, prevention, and research, and is Director of the UW/Fred Hutch Center for AIDS Research eHealth Scientific Working Group. When not trying to prevent HIV, you can find her running, swimming, cross-country skiing, or working on her food blog!



Established in 1986, the University of Washington AIDS Clinical Trials Unit (UW ACTU) is part of the AIDS Clinical Trials Group, a network of clinical research sites funded by our tax dollars to do research studies on HIV treatments in adults.


We are not motivated by financial gain or profit, but by what’s best for the health & well-being of people living with HIV.


Over 2600 volunteers in more than 170 studies have helped us to answer questions about how HIV works and affects the immune system, as well as to develop new treatments for HIV.


Our upcoming studies will need volunteers to help us investigate potentials ways to cure HIV, eliminating it from the body, or to train the immune system of those with HIV to control the virus without relying on pills every day--which we refer to as a "functional" cure.


The most valuable thing our volunteers say they receive from participating in our research studies is “a chance to be part of the solution.”





Our Director Dr. Ann Collier and Dr. Constance Benson discuss the advances made in HIV research thanks to the AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) Network's A5001 ALLRT study. The study began in 2000 as follow-up study for people living with HIV in the United States who were already enrolled in a parent ACTG study. The goal of the study was to follow people living with HIV for an average of five years or longer after starting anti-HIV treatment to better understand the long term effects of the virus and anti-HIV medications. Thanks to the rich database collected over the study's 13 years, investigators have made breakthroughs in immune recovery, inflammatory markers, opportunistic infections and cure research.


PARIS 2017

"Perspectives on Participation & Recruitment in HIV Cure-Related Trials"

is the talk given at IAS HIV Cure & Cancer Forum at Institut Curie in Paris, France on July 23, 2017 by our Outreach  Coordinator, Michael Louella, as part of a panel discussion impacting trial design for HIV cure and cancer research.


Our outreach coordinator Michael appears in this Kelley-Ross PrEP PSA. Learn about Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis that is intended to prevent HIV acquisition in HIV-negative individuals. People at high-risk of exposure to HIV are eligible for prescriptions for this treatment.

How Immune Cells

Sense Danger:

New Imaging Techniques


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