The doctor who co-discovered HIV (the human immunodeficiency virus) will visit the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation on March 8 and deliver the keynote address at an OMRF dinner that evening.
Robert Gallo, M.D., who made his watershed discovery in the early 1980s, will come to OMRF as part of the Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund Endowed Lecture Series. The series brings a world leader in Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome research to speak at OMRF each year and was made possible by a $50,000 gift from the Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund.
“The AIDS Care Fund has made a unique gift to OMRF and Oklahoma and with this lecture series,” said J. Donald Capra, M.D., President of OMRF. “It not only helps OMRF researchers in their quest to better understand the human immune system, but it also gives Oklahomans who are not scientists the opportunity to hear some of the world’s foremost AIDS researchers.”
Since 1996, Gallo has been Director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Though best known for his co-discovery of HIV, Gallo and his team also pioneered the development of the HIV blood test that enabled health care workers to screen for the AIDS virus.
Gallo’s research also helped physicians develop HIV therapies to prolong the lives of those infected with the virus. In 1996, he discovered that certain natural compounds (known as chemokines) can block the HIV virus and halt the progression of AIDS.
At OMRF, scientists have also made important contributions to the field of HIV research. Most notably, Jordan Tang, Ph.D., helped lay the scientific groundwork for inhibitors that stop the AIDS virus from replicating. These inhibitors proved to be a crucial ingredient in HIV cocktails, the potent AIDS-fighting therapeutics that have added years to the lives of those suffering from the disease.
Gallo sees research organizations such as OMRF as crucial to continuing to advance human health. “Modern biomedical science is now in position to take advantage of new knowledge by applying this knowledge to the betterment of human health,” he said. “Institutes like OMRF are the main stages where these things will unfold.”
About the Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund:
Founded in 1991, the Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund provides financial support for groups offering research, services and education to fight AIDS and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Most of the organization’s funds are raised through an annual Red Tie Night gala and auction, which has become the largest one-time fundraising event in the state.
Celebrating its 60th birthday in 2006, OMRF (www.omrf.org) is a nonprofit biomedical research institute dedicated to understanding and curing human disease. Its scientists focus on such critical research areas as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, lupus and cardiovascular disease. It is home to Oklahoma’s only member of the National Academy of Sciences.