Consortium Tackles HIV Vaccine

October 1, 2005

 

Barton Haynes, a Duke Medical Center scientist and professor, has been selected to lead the new Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology (CHAVI), a consortium of universities and academic medical centers established in July by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The center's mission will be to address major obstacles to HIV vaccine design and development, and to develop and test novel HIV vaccine candidates.

CHAVI, which will receive $15 million in its first year and may receive more than $300 million over seven years, was established in response to recommendations of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, a virtual consortium endorsed by world leaders at a June 2004 G-8 summit. The Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise was originally proposed by Haynes, NIAID director Anthony Fauci, and other prominent HIV vaccine researchers and public-health officials in a June 2003 commentary in Science magazine.

Haynes, a professor of medicine and director of the Human Vaccine Institute at Duke, has studied HIV for more than fifteen years. He is an internationally recognized leader in basic T- and B-cell immunology, retrovirus research, and HIV vaccine development.

"Making a vaccine for AIDS has turned out to be more difficult than we ever anticipated," says Haynes, who will coordinate research efforts with four other lead scientists from the U.S. and abroad. "With this award, our CHAVI team will work with the HIV research community in a new model that places great emphasis on coordination and synergy."

Approximately 40 million people are living with HIV/AIDS globally, and the rate of new HIV infections continues to exceed 13,000 per day, according to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS. Although AIDS drugs have extended the lives of many in wealthy nations, according to global-health experts, an effective HIV vaccine would be an extremely valuable addition to the comprehensive prevention strategies necessary to halt the spread of HIV in both developing and developed countries.

CHAVI researchers will focus on solving several unanswered questions about HIV, including how the virus interacts with the body during the earliest stages of infection. They will conduct research in their own labs, soliciting and supporting new ideas and discovery efforts from the research community, and engage in research partnerships with other labs around the world.

David Goldstein, professor of molecular genetics and microbiology and director of Duke's Center for Population Genomics and Pharmacogenetics, will oversee the center's Host and Viral Core, one of five major research areas.