UMMS experts mark World AIDS Day

By Jim Fessenden

UMass Medical School Communications

December 02, 2011
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Sarah H. Cheeseman, MD, professor of medicine, microbiology & physiological systems and pediatrics and Shan Lu, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and biochemistry & molecular pharmacology, were interviewed by the Worcester Telegram and Gazette for an article on World AIDS Day. World AIDS Day, held on Dec. 1 each year, is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first-ever global health day and was first held in 1988.


In the article, Dr. Cheeseman, an infectious disease expert who has been treating patients with HIV for more than 20 years, talks about how treatments for HIV have improved. Despite these improvements, she says a diagnosis of HIV is still a tremendous burden for patients.

Dr. Lu, an HIV researcher, explains that the quest to find a vaccine is making progress. Recent studies, including those made by his lab, suggest a “prime and boost” strategy, in which a genetically-engineered virus is injected and “boosted” with recombinant-DNA protein, may have potential.

Read the full story: 25 million AIDS deaths, but the fight goes on

On campus World AIDS Day events

On-campus events also marked World AIDS Day, including a well-attended symposium that highlighted the diverse HIV/AIDS research going on at UMass Medical School, fostered by UMMS Center for AIDS Research (CFAR). A poster session before the symposium featured 25 HIV/AIDS research projects.

Celia A. Schiffer, PhD, professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology and director of CFAR, noted in her introductory remarks that research addressing the interplay between HIV and other associated diseases requires a multidisciplinary approach, addressed by CFAR’s mission to identify areas of collaboration, provide funding opportunities, set priorities and mentor new investigators. An important goal of CFAR, Dr. Schiffer said, is to “try to get people working together.”

The symposium featured talks by Jeremy Luban, MD, from the University of Geneva, who will be joining UMMS in 2012 as the David L. Freelander Memorial Professor in HIV/AIDS Research and professor of molecular medicine, who spoke on capsid specific restrictions and innate immunity to HIV-1.

Donna Gallagher, RN, ANP, instructor in nursing and co-director of the Office of Global Health and director of the UMass New England AIDS Education and Training Center, reviewed the efforts of many members of the UMMS community in rebuilding the health care infrastructure of Liberia.

 

Other speakers included David Evans, PhD, associate professor of microbiology and immunobiology at Harvard Medical School’s New England Primate Center; Hardy Kornfeld, MD, professor of medicine; Pauline Himland, RN, ANP; Shruti Sharma, PhD, post-doctoral associate; and Lu.

The evening before, on Wednesday, Nov. 30, two Iranian physicians who were imprisoned for their advocacy for, and treatment of, people with HIV/AIDS, shared their story with students and others from the UMMS community. The talk by Drs. Arash and Kamiar Alaei was co-sponsored by the Medical School’s Multicultural Pathway Program, the UMMS Chapter of Health Professionals for Human Rights and the Massachusetts Area Health Education Center.

 

 

Related story on UMassMedNow:

World AIDS Day to be marked with talk, symposium