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National leaders in HIV vaccine research present scientific symposium at Emory University

Emory University Health Sciences Center

ATLANTA-- A group of the nation's most respected scientific leaders in the search for an AIDS vaccine will gather at Emory University on Monday, April 22 to present a scientific symposium. "AIDS Vaccine Science in 2002: Enduring Challenges and Promising New Directions" is sponsored by the Emory Vaccine Research Center and the Emory Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) and will address the latest findings in basic, pre-clinical and clinical AIDS vaccine studies. The symposium is free and open to physicians, medical researchers, health professionals, academics, and members of the public health community. It will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the auditorium of Emory University's Woodruff Health Sciences Center Administration Building at 1440 Clifton Rd. on the Emory campus.

The symposium will include Rafi Ahmed, Ph.D., Georgia Research Alliance professor of microbiology and immunology and director of the Emory Vaccine Research Center; Emilio A. Emini, Ph.D., senior vice president for vaccine and biologics research at Merck Research Laboratories; Mark B. Feinberg, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine and microbiology and immunology, Emory University School of Medicine and medical director, The Hope Clinic of the Emory Vaccine Research Center; Gary Nabel, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Vaccine Research Center, National Institutes of Health (NIH); Neal Nathanson, M.D., vice provost for research, University of Pennsylvania and former director, Office of AIDS Research, NIH; and Harriet Robinson, Ph.D., chief, Division of Microbiology and Immunology, Yerkes Primate Research Center, and Asa Griggs Candler professor of microbiology and immunology, Emory University School of Medicine.

The symposium is sponsored by the Emory Vaccine Research Center and the Emory Center for AIDS Research to celebrate the opening of The Hope Clinic -- a newly created Emory clinical research facility devoted to clinical trials of promising new vaccines and therapeutic interventions. The Emory Vaccine Research Center is home to one of the largest basic and preclinical vaccine research programs at any university worldwide. The Hope Clinic of the Emory Vaccine Research Center provides new opportunities to translate basic research findings into useful clinical advances to ameliorate global public health threats, including AIDS and malaria. The clinic is strategically located in downtown Decatur to enable community-based clinical research. It was created through the combined efforts of the Emory University School of Medicine, the Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center and the Emory Center for AIDS Research (CFAR).

o Rafi Ahmed became director of the Emory Vaccine Research Center and was named the Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Vaccine Research in 1995. Prior to joining Emory, he was a faculty member at the University of California, Los Angeles. His research efforts are directed towards understanding the mechanisms of immunological memory and using this knowledge to develop new and more effective vaccines.
o Emilio Emini joined Merck in 1983, where since 1987 he has headed Merck's overall vaccine research program while retaining a personal interest in the development of an HIV vaccine. He is currently responsible for the discovery and early development of both vaccines and biologic therapeutic agents. Within Merck, he has headed the biological studies that supported the company's anti-HIV antiviral drug research efforts. He contributed to both the molecular and biological literature of viral resistance to the HIV protease and nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors.
o Prior to joining the Emory faculty in 1998, Mark Feinberg served as medical officer for the Office of AIDS Research at the NIH and as chair of the NIH Coordinating Committee on AIDS Etiology and Pathogenesis Research. From 1991-95 he was on the faculty of the University of California at San Francisco, where he was associate director of the UCSF Center for AIDS Research and director of the Virology Core Laboratory. He has served on the Committee for Oversight of AIDS Activities at the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy for Sciences and on the Institute of Medicine's Roundtable for the Development of AIDS Drugs and Vaccines. He is principal investigator of Phase I clinical trials of experimental AIDS vaccines, and in the laboratory he is developing additional vaccine strategies.
o Before joining the NIH, Gary Nabel was a professor of internal medicine and biological chemistry at the University of Michigan, where he served as director of the Center for Gene Therapy and co-director of the Center for Molecular Medicine and as an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences. His laboratory has developed gene transfer strategies that are being applied to the development of vaccines and treatment of AIDS, Ebola virus, cancer and other diseases.
o Neal Nathanson was formerly director of the Office of AIDS Research (OAR) at the National Institutes of Health. He has a broad background in virology, epidemiology and public health and is particularly known for his contributions to the field of viral pathogenesis, having edited the definitive text on this subject. He has served on a number of government advisory groups, including the NIH AIDS Vaccine Research Committee, the UNAIDS Vaccine Advisory Committee, and the Board of Scientific Counselors of NIAID and NINDS.
o Harriet Robinson was one of the first scientists to demonstrate that purified DNA could be used as a safe and effective vaccine. She was lead author of the comprehensive American Society of Microbiology guide to DNA vaccines. She is principal investigator for one of the most promising HIV candidate vaccine currently under development and plans to initiate Phase I clinical trials in humans beginning in early summer. In addition, she is developing vaccines to target HIV variations prevalent in Africa, India and China, and she is a consultant on HIV/AIDS for Cote d'Ivoire.

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