A scientist and physician who is one of the world leaders in HIV research and treatment visited the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation today and delivered a keynote address at an OMRF dinner this evening.
Paul Volberding, M.D., came to OMRF as part of the Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund Endowed Lecture Series. The series each year brings a world leader in Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) research to speak at OMRF. It was made possible by a gift from the fund.
“Thanks to the AIDS Care Fund, our scientists will have the opportunity to learn more about the broad challenges in caring for HIV-infected patients,” said OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D. “Dr. Paul Volberding is a talented and empathetic physician who, at the height of the AIDS epidemic, played a key role in better understanding the syndrome.“
Volberding conducted clinical research in the laboratory of Dr. Jay Levy, a co-discoverer of human immunodeficiency virus, and later investigated HIV-related malignancies, especially Kaposi’s sarcoma. Since 1982, he has published more than 180 articles in major journals and authored numerous books, editorials and reviews about Kaposi’s sarcoma, AIDS and HIV. He is founder and chair of the board of the International AIDS Society – USA. He is currently president of the HIV Medical Association.
Volberding established a model program of AIDS patient care, research and education at San Francisco General Hospital. In recent years, his primary research focus has shifted to clinical trials of antiretroviral drugs, even becoming instrumental in testing many compounds.
At OMRF, scientists also have made important contributions to the field of HIV research. Jordan Tang, PhD, who holds the J.G. Puterbaugh Chair in Medical Research, 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.
“Dr. Tang and other truly basic scientists are helping us understand the direct and intimate connections that link all fundamental biology,” Volberding said. “The more we understand these principles, the more we appreciate that looking at an organ system in isolation is far too limiting. Work on one disease quickly affects perspectives for others.”
Volberding’s talk this evening centered on the future of the HIV epidemic and what can be expected over the next decade. “In the U.S., the epidemic is coming under increasing control in the more economically secure groups,” he said. “It will remain an ongoing problem in poorer communities where access to effective treatment and prevention will be limited. Globally, we will see a real benefit in countries able to provide HIV medications and the impact will make it difficult to withdraw that support.”
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a retrovirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a condition in humans in which the immune system begins to fail, leading to life-threatening infections. At the end of 2003, an estimated 1,039,000 to 1,185,000 people in the United States were living with HIV/AIDS. About 40,000 people in the United States become infected with HIV each year. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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 fund-raising event in the state.
Chartered in 1946, 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.