NIH awards $8 million to UCSF/Gladstone Center for AIDS research

By Jeff Sheehy

The National Institutes for Health have awarded the UCSF-Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) $8 million for five years to continue the pioneering research that led to its designation as the operational model for all CFARs nationally in 2000.

First funded through the NIH in 1988, the CFAR program includes nineteen centers based at leading AIDS research institutions nationwide and is designed to provide a national pool of shared resources that is made available to researchers locally.  The UCSF-Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology (GIVI) CFAR, one of the first funded in 1988 and the longest operating CFAR in California, has emerged as one of the leading CFARs in the United States.

“The UCSF-GIVI Center for AIDS Research is absolutely crucial to maintaining and extending the leadership role of San Francisco in responding to the HIV epidemic.  It brings together a true community of HIV investigations that represent the many disciplines and campus sites involved in this effort,” said Paul Volberding, MD, the center’s co-director and professor and vice-chair, UCSF department of medicine.

The Center, co-directed by Warner Greene, MD, PhD, director of the UCSF affiliated GIVI, provides strategic, focused fiscal and scientific services to HIV researchers housed among the various San Francisco campuses operated by UCSF, including the nationally-recognized Ward 86 AIDS Clinic at San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center.

“Our mission within the UCSF-GIVI CFAR is crystal clear-we seek to bring basic, clinical and behavioral/epidemiological scientists together to work in novel teams and to galvanize new science.  These teams can approach many of the difficult current puzzles confronting AIDS research in a way that no single group working alone can solve. Our successful competition for refunding validates our mission in many ways, as does the adoption of a similar approach by many of the other CFARs throughout the country,” said Greene. 

The UCSF-GIVI CFAR leveraged $1.1 million in direct funding in fiscal year 2001 across a broad spectrum of research at UCSF; seeding research efforts that produced more than $64 million in NIH grant support to campus and affiliate researchers.

“CFAR is particularly vital in encouraging the collaborations across conventional scientific disciplines that can direct the amazing expertise of UCSF scientists to address the newest challenges of HIV disease.  As we face the problems here in San Francisco as well as in the world-wide epidemic, CFAR will provide the essential infrastructure facilitating the most important and innovative science we all depend on,” said Volberding, who is also chief of the Medical Service at San Francisco’s Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

The Center has succeeded in stimulating several new advances in AIDS research, including: the Evaluation of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART)-Induced Reconstitution of Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Specific Immune Responses; The Options Project to identify, evaluate and study individuals recently infected with HIV; Evaluation of Protease Inhibitor (PI) Failure and the Biological Fitness of PI Resistant HIV; Post Exposure Prevention (PEP), which studies the provision of antiretrovirals to persons recently exposed to the HIV virus; HIV-1 Nef: Role in Immune Evasion and Viral Pathogenesis; and HIVWatch, a pilot effort to establish an electronic medical record linked to key clinical specimens for AIDS patients followed within the SFGH clinics.