There may be some issue in terms of access to the VRACS dataset. However, the owner/collector of the data has okayed for me to teach a SAS seminar and to do a paper using that data. Therefore, it doesn't seem to be an ownership issue - but who knows.
Apparently the person who collected the data just doesn't think there is enough in the data set for a full dissertation. I am supposed to call to discuss the issue further this week (tomorrow). There are multiple data sets on HIV risk factors in India that have been recently collected and are lying around the Infectious Disease unit waiting for analyses. Therefore, if VRACS is too small, I can turn to these other sources. I am thinking the 3 paper dissertation model may be ideal for me using HIV risk in India as the uniting theme (with a broad question to link these paper to be determined).
In other news, I am thinking about backing out of an additional summer committment which would only take time away from the dissertation project. The other comitmment is a health-education activity where I would work with an interdisciplinary team in a community setting (e.g. AIDS men in Tampa, overweight kids in hernando county, diabetetic hispanics in ruskin, etc) to develop an education model and to assess basic epi stats in that population. It's a useful project in that it deals with health ed/policy and pays well, however, it takes time away from dissertation related activities and potential learning/interesting opportunities at TGH (rounding, etc). The main pros at this point for keeping the second summer position is that the extra money would be fun, its only 24 hours a week, Kryste is going to be quite busy anyway, and I have already agreed to do it (granted it doesn't start until June and they would certainly be able to find someone to fill the open slot - however, I don't really want to piss off AHEC in my first professional encounter with the group). Anyway, something to mull over for a couple of days.