Turning great ideas into healthier communities

Tooru Nemoto, PhD

Tooru Nemoto, PhD, is a research program director at PHI and oversees a number of substance abuse and HIV prevention studies and programs for stigmatized and neglected populations, such as Asian and Pacific Islander men who have sex with men, transgender people and sex workers.

Nemoto's research focuses on the social and cultural contexts of substance use and HIV-related risk behaviors as well as gender and sexual identity. He collaborates with substance abuse and HIV/AIDS care and prevention agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area and researchers in Japan and Thailand.

Before joining PHI in 2007, Nemoto was associate professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). A standing ad hoc review member for the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) study sections, he was co-chair for the National Institute on Drug Abuse Asian American and Pacific Islander Workgroup from its inception in 1999 until 2006.

Nemoto is funded by NIH, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the California HIV/AIDS Research Programs to conduct research and evaluate prevention programs.

Nemoto earned a doctorate in community psychology from New York University and completed postdoctoral work at the Institute for Health Policy Studies at UCSF.

Butterfly Project for Transgender Women of Color

The Butterfly Project (BP) has three major components: outreach, intervention, and building and sustaining community for transgender of women of color in Alameda and San Francisco counties. Through the Motivational Enhancement Intervention, quality of life workshops, and support groups, BP will engage transgender women of color, increasing retention of those infected with HIV in HIV primary care and other necessary services.

Capacity Building Initiative for Substance Abuse and HIV Prevention Services for Young, At-Risk Transgender Women of Color

This project aims to prevent substance abuse and HIV risk behaviors among young (18 to 24) transgender women of color in Alameda and San Francisco counties. In collaboration with a local substance abuse treatment agency, we will develop, implement and evaluate the motivational enhancement intervention, which will be adapted and tailored to high-risk transgender women of color.

Culture and HIV Prevention in Cambodia

This collarative project explores what Cambodian female sex workers think about HIV risk, HIV infection and prevention technologies. The socio-cultural constructs of harmonious control and fatalism, investigated in previous studies with female sex workers in San Francisco, will also be explored and the comparability of these constructs across studies will be examined.

Developing a Couples HIV Prevention for Transgender Women and Male Partners

The research study adapts, refines and pilot tests an empirically supported couples-focused behavioral intervention, Project Connect, to reduce HIV-related risk behaviors among transgender women and their male partners. This study is guided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's evidence-based framework for adapting scientifically validated HIV prevention practices for heterosexual couples to transgender women and their male partners.

Empowering Survivors of the 2011 Japanese Earthquake to Fight Against Cancer

The goal of this project is to empower and support cancer patients and survivors in Japan who are also dealing with the aftermatch of the March 2011 "triple disaster."

Enhancing Engagement and Retention in Quality HIV Care for Transgender Women of Color in Oakland, CA

This five-year Butterfly Project will enroll 180 transgender women who live with HIV. The Butterfly Project will utilize innovative intervention programs  to engage and retain African-American transgender women who live with HIV. In addition, the Butterfly Project will operate a storefront safe place for transgender women of color and hold weekly support groups and health promotion workshops.

Exploring Factors for Future HIV Prevention in Malaysia

The study will investigate homophobia/transphobia and other sociocultural factors that influence substance use and HIV-related risk behaviors among stigmatized high-risk groups in Malaysia: men who have sex with men and male-to-female transgender women. 

HIV Prevention for Young African American Transgender Women in Oakland/Alameda County

AIDS Project of the East Bay, in partnership with PHI, implements culturally sensitive and efficacious HIV-prevention programs for African American young transgender women between the ages of 13 and 29 in the targeted communities in Oakland/Alameda County, California. 

Preventing Substance Abuse and HIV Risk Behaviors Among Asian Pacific Islander MSM

The project aims to prevent substance abuse and HIV risk behaviors among Asian/Pacific Islander (API) men who have sex with men (MSM) based on the collaboration of multiple community-based agencies, who will implement and evaluate motivational enhancement intervention and brief intervention, adapted for high-risk API MSM.

Substance Abuse and HIV Risk Reduction for Transgender Women of Color

This randomized controlled study evaluates the efficacy and community impact of Motivational Enhancement Intervention and Brief Intervention to reduce substance abuse and HIV risk behaviors among African American and Latina transgender women. Priority will also be placed on disseminating findings and building capacity to develop a a full-scale intervention study.

Substance Use and HIV Risk Behaviors among Thai Women

This study investigates the sociocultural contexts of HIV risk behaviors and drug use among Thai female and male-to-female transgender (kathoey) sex workers in Bangkok. This research will be used to develop theoretical models and HIV prevention intervention studies in the future.

Successful Stories from API MSM about Prevention Strategies

This study describes HIV risk behaviors among Asian/Pacific Islander men who have sex with men (API MSM) in socio-cultural contexts based on an Internet survey and focus groups. The study will describe protective strategies against HIV/ATIs, which will be used in HIV prevention programs for API MSM in the future.