by Joan Trombetti
, Writer | September 22, 2009
Led by Rush University Medical Center, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a consortium of Chicago-based institutions, a five-year, $3.75-million grant to establish a Developmental Center for AIDS Research, creating a comprehensive research infrastructure to spur basic science, clinical studies and translational research in the prevention, detection and treatment of HIV infection and AIDS.
One of only two centers in the Midwest, the consortium was the only developmental center funded this year.
The center in Chicago involves investigators from Rush, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and Cook County Health and Hospitals System, who will collaborate across disciplines and institutions to advance HIV/AIDS research. Chicago ranks sixth among U.S. cities in the number of HIV cases, with approximately 21,000 known infections and another 5,000 presumed infections.
"With this grant, we have an unparalleled opportunity to make Chicago an epicenter for AIDS research, focusing on translational research that takes investigations from bench to bedside, and out to the community, to make a truly significant impact," said Alan Landay, PhD, chairman of immunology and microbiology at Rush, director of the new center, and an internationally recognized expert in immunology and HIV pathogenesis.
The NIH funding will be used to create shared "core" facilities that provide expertise and services to participating laboratories at all three institutions.
Rush will head the administrative and developmental cores, with responsibility for strategic planning and operational management. It will oversee scientific communications and funding for important new areas of research and launch a special outreach effort to share advances with the affected community in Chicago.
The University of Illinois at Chicago will direct the basic science and the social and behavioral sciences cores. The basic science core will provide access to, and training in, state-of-the-art technologies for laboratory investigations in virology, molecular biology, immunology and other areas. The social and behavioral sciences core will support research involving social, behavioral and psychosocial issues and facilitate studies and interventions in local, national and international communities.
"Numerous scientists and community activists in our three institutions have been working largely independently to reduce the scourge of HIV/AIDS. This research initiative will provide opportunities for us to share and build upon our varied expertise and perspectives. I fully expect new prevention and treatment strategies to arise from this exciting collaboration," said Robert Bailey, PhD, professor of epidemiology at the UIC School of Public Health and co-director of the new AIDS research center.