AIDS Vaccine Quest topic of next UGA Global Diseases lecture

AIDS Vaccine Quest topic of next UGA Global Diseases lecture

Athens, Ga. – In late 2007, the National Institutes of Health and Merck announced that instead of protecting healthy people against HIV infection, the leading experimental AIDS vaccine may have made some participants in the STEP study more susceptible to the virus. In the next University of Georgia Global Diseases: Voices from the Vanguard lecture, leading vaccine researcher Barney Graham will talk about where the AIDS vaccine quest goes from here.

In a lecture called “HIV Vaccine Development: What is the next STEP?” Graham will talk about how decisions about testing candidate vaccines take into account both scientific evidence and the empirical need for a preventive vaccine. He will speak at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17, in the UGA Chapel. The lecture is free and open to the public and is followed by a reception.

In 2000, Graham was one of the first scientists recruited for the Dale and Betty Bumpers Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health. He now serves as its director of clinical studies. Before that, he led HIV vaccine testing at Vanderbilt University for 13 years and was involved in dozens of NIH-sponsored clinical trials.

“Barney Graham has been a key player in HIV vaccine research and development since the beginning,” said Patricia Thomas, Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism at the UGA Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Thomas wrote a book about the subject, Big Shot: Passion, Politics and the Struggle for an AIDS Vaccine, which was released in 2005.

“If anyone knows how difficult it is to test vaccines in volunteers, and to evaluate their immune responses in the laboratory, it’s Dr. Graham,” she said.

At NIH, Graham is responsible not only for the clinical evaluation of HIV vaccines, but also vaccines important for biodefense and protection against emerging infections.

The 2009 Voices from the Vanguard series concludes on April 14 with a lecture with Brown University’s Jennifer Friedman, an expert on parasitic diseases in children. All lectures will be held at 5 p.m. in the UGA Chapel, followed by a reception next door at Demosthenian Hall.

The Global Diseases: Voices from the Vanguard lecture series is a joint effort of the Grady College’s Knight Chair and Daniel G. Colley, director of the UGA Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases. For additional information, see www.grady.uga.edu/knighthealth

Established in 1915, the UGA Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication offers seven undergraduate majors including advertising, broadcast news, magazines, newspapers, public relations, publication management and telecommunication arts. The college offers two graduate degrees, and is home to WNEG-TV, the Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism and the Peabody Awards, internationally recognized as one of the most prestigious prizes for excellence in electronic media. For more information, see www.grady.uga.edu.