On a global basis, 36.7 million people live with HIV. In 2016, 1.8 million new HIV infections were reported, a rate of ~5,000 per day, and one million people died of AIDS. Although new HIV infections began to decline in 1997, AIDS-related deaths continued to increase until 2004. Since that time, both new infections and deaths have abated due to anti-retroviral therapy (ART). However, there is a large disparity between those with and without access to ART. Currently, the most adversely affected areas remain in eastern and southern Africa where a disproportionate number (~53%) of people worldwide live with HIV. HIV infections in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia continue to increase, as do some vulnerable US populations. HIV/AIDS remains a global health issue and AIDS-related illnesses are a leading cause of death globally. Therefore, more broadly-based, targeted, and innovative therapies including broad-spectrum prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines, broadly neutralizing antibody-based immunotherapeutics, and cure strategies are required for universal application. Major clinical advances to the treatment of HIV/AIDS have come from basic research findings in academia, including those from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, and its affiliated institutions. The number of young scientists with expertise in immunology, virology, and the application of these disciplines to AIDS-related research remains limited so there is a significant need at the national level to train the next generation of scientific leaders. These primary considerations led to the development of this training program in 1990. The program is supported by a renowned group of 13 faculty mentors comprised of leading investigators in immunology, virology, and related fields. The goal of this application is to identify and train 5 postdoctoral research fellows over a two-year period as the next generation of scientists to make fundamental discoveries in immunology and virology, using advanced approaches with potential application to the development of novel therapeutics, and to promote thought leaders as well as innovative scientists who will advance new therapeutic concepts. This Program will provide the opportunity to train a new cadre of young scientists in a collegial, collaborative, and cohesive institutional community to be well-versed in both basic and clinical sciences, who will focus on cutting-edge scientific inquiry while developing interactive and career development skills. The successful outcome of this training program will provide a critical springboard for the development of our next generation of independent research scientists who will dedicate themselves to AIDS- related research. In this resubmission, we describe the progress and achievements of trainees who have completed this program, revise the list of faculty mentors, and outline objectives for the program over the next five years.
The primary goal of this program is to identify and train the next generation of scientists who will make fundamental discoveries in immunology and virology with potential application to the development of novel therapeutic approaches to AIDS and AIDS-related disorders in preparation for careers as independent investigators.
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