New UCSF AIDS Research Institute director appointed

By Jeff Sheehy

John S. Greenspan, PhD, BDS, FRCPath, dean for research at the UCSF School of Dentistry, has been named the new director of the UCSF AIDS Research Institute (ARI).

Greenspan is founder and current director of three of UCSF’s pioneering HIV/AIDS programs - the AIDS Specimen Bank, the Oral AIDS Center, and the California AIDS Research Center.  He also holds appointment as a professor of oral biology and pathology.

“John Greenspan is a renowned AIDS investigator and an international leader in the field of mucosal diseases. As interim director, he has done a terrific job leading an internal analysis of the future shape and governance of the Institute and his long and broad leadership experience will be invaluable as he guides the ARI in its next phase of its work,” said David A. Kessler, MD, UCSF vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, who announced the appointment.

Greenspan, who has been serving as ARI’s interim director since July of last year, succeeds Thomas J. Coates, PhD, ARI’s founding director.  Coates is now a professor in the division of infectious diseases at UCLA Medical School.

As director of ARI, Greenspan will oversee the coordination and integration of all HIV/AIDS research activities at UCSF. ARI brings together hundreds of scientists and dozens of programs from throughout the University and affiliated labs and institutions.  ARI works in close collaboration with affected communities, and is the largest HIV/AIDS research entity in the world outside of the National Institutes of Health.

“Our research can no longer be divided into discrete categories like basic, clinical, and prevention or domestic versus international.  Just as highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) changed prevention, a successful vaccine will require coordination with prevention efforts. Discoveries about HAART made here in San Francisco influence how HAART is rolled out in Africa.  A cure or new therapies are likely to emerge overseas.  My challenge is to lead a borderless ARI as we confront HIV/AIDS wherever it appears and with every means,” said Greenspan.

## In his new post, Greenspan sees the following major goals for ARI:

* Expand efforts to explore the genetic biology of HIV to find its weak points, so researchers can identify new targets for therapy and open the way to new classes of drugs.

* Develop immune-based therapies that allow a person’s own immune system to control the virus and that could serve as the basis for a vaccine.  The innate immune system is the most promising place to look. Expand vaccine research.

* Continue ARI leadership in redefining HIV/AIDS as an issue demanding a gender-based approach.

* Take a leadership role in creating a new San Francisco model of integrated prevention and care for HIV-positive individuals in a clinical setting.

* Expand ARI work in developing new inexpensive diagnostic and monitoring tools such as cheap and accurate CD4 and viral load tests and quantitative antibody assays.

* Expand the understanding of the effects of HIV (and HAART) on the brain.

* Refine and develop prevention and treatment for opportunistic infections.

* Expand ARI training and mentoring programs to develop the next generation of clinicians and investigators.

Since its inception in 1996, the UCSF ARI has fostered innovative and integrated science - basic, clinical, prevention, and policy research - to prevent, understand, treat, and some day cure HIV infection. ARI stimulates innovation and supports interdisciplinary collaboration aimed at all aspects of the epidemic domestically and around the world.  ARI is committed to rapid dissemination of its findings and the training of new scientists to continue working toward the ultimate goal of ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Greenspan’s research interests include the oral aspects of AIDS and the role of viruses in oral epithelial and salivary gland lesions. His group has been a leader in studies of oral aspects of HIV infection with major contributions to HIV research and care, including the discovery of the lesion hairy leukoplakia, its association with Epstein-Barr virus, and the significance of this and other oral lesions in the natural history of HIV disease.

He has trained over 40 basic and clinical science graduate students and over 20 fellows, and acted as mentor to many other academic clinician-scientists at formative stages of their careers.

“Dr. Greenspan has been a preeminent architect of the extraordinary success of the research program for the School of Dentistry over the past two decades. His contributions have contributed enormously to the School’s status as the number one ranked dental research program in the country for the past 12 years,” said Charles N. Bertolami, DDS, DMedSc, dean of the UCSF School of Dentistry.

Greenspan serves as the Leland A. and Gladys K. Barber Professor and was chair of the Department of Stomatology from 1988 until 2001.  He is former chairman of the UCSF Academic Senate, a member of the Institute of Medicine and of the National Academy of Sciences, and a fellow of the UK Royal College of Pathologists and of King’s College London.

Among other honors, Greenspan has been president of the American Association for Dental Research and president of the International Association for Dental Research.