Dear UCSF ARI Community,
As the calendar year comes to a close, I’d like to reflect on some of the key achievements of our ARI team and community in 2018.
One of the more exciting announcements of the fall was the announcement of Dr. Monica Gandhi as the co-chair of the 23rd International AIDS Conference (“AIDS2020”), taking place in San Francisco and Oakland in July 2020. We’re also thrilled about the appointment of some of our UCSF experts and longtime collaborators to high-level organizing positions on the Conference Coordinating Committee (CCC). UCSF is the conference Local Scientific Partner, with Dr. Judy Auerbach representing our community; and the San Francisco Department of Public Health is the Local Leadership Partner, with Dr. Hyman Scott representing.
In addition to the CCC appointments, UCSF is well represented on the Local Planning Group (LPG), its sub-committees, and its stewardship. The LPG acts as a central point in planning and coordinating local activities leading up to and during AIDS2020, brings local/regional voices, issues, perspectives and solutions to the conference, and promotes the U.S. as a host country. The LPG has five sub-committees (Community Engagement and Access; Culture, Arts and Global Village; Political Engagement and Policy; Scientific Leadership; Equity), and is led by a Steering Committee of ~20 members with representatives from the Cities of San Francisco and Oakland, Departments of Health, and Elected Officials.
Dr. Marguerita Lightfoot, Dr. Larkin Callaghan, and Dr. Auerbach all serve on the Scientific Leadership sub-committee and the Steering Committee. Dr. Lightfoot chairs the Scientific Leadership group and is also a member of the Equity group. Dr. Callaghan is a member of the Political Engagement and Policy sub-committee, in addition to directing media relations and serving as the public information officer for the LPG and Steering Committee.
You can read more about the other conference co-chairs and their selection, in addition to the first open communication from the entire Conference Coordinating Committee, on the ARI site. If you have questions about UCSF’s continued role in the conference, feel free to reach out to Larkin Callaghan.
Our annual amfAR Institute for HIV Cure Research Summit, held last month on our Mission Bay campus celebrated the role of community voices in clinical trials – featuring members of our Community Advisory Board, investigators from the Institute, and the perspective of UCSF patients who have participated in some of our most promising trials. If you weren’t able to attend, you can catch snippets from the talks and interviews on the amfAR site.
Faculty continue to impress with numerous grant awards in surveillance, implementation, and clinical care. Dr. George Rutherford will be a leading a five-year multimillion dollar CDC-funded collaborative (with partners Vitalant Research Institute—formerly the Blood Systems Research Institute—the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, and local partners in Botswana, Haiti, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Uganda, and Zambia) that will monitor recent HIV infections at testing sites, to better assess target regions and prevention activities.
Other awards exceeding a million dollars include Dr. Diane Havlir’s NIH-funded project, “Strategic antiretroviral therapy and HIV testing for youth in rural Africa (SATURN)” and Dr. Sulggi Lee’s grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse for “Short-term and long-term effects of methamphetamine exposure on residual viral transcription during treated HIV disease.”
Leadership transitions to be acknowledged include Drs. Lillian Brown and Rachel Rutishauser taking over as the new co-chairs of JFAR. I’d like to thank Drs. Sulggi Lee and Nadia Roan for their guidance of the program the last three years, providing a wonderful example of how to engage emerging investigators in career development areas of greatest interest particularly to young women.
Unfortunately, not all news was positive this year. This fall we mourned the loss of one of our leading faculty, Dr. Teri Liegler, the Director of the Laboratory of Clinical Virology and co-Director of the CFAR Virology Core. Remembered for her skilled mentoring, dedication to fostering the careers of women in academic science, and interdisciplinary focus, many of her colleagues spoke to ARI about what they will recall most fondly about our friend and colleague. Donations can be made in her name to support emerging investigators.
Our latest feature showcases Dr. Gandhi’s work on using hair and urine samples to monitor PrEP adherence – and where those projects may take the field in the future; our next event is a talk at the UCSF library titled “What Came Before? STIs among Men Who Had Sex with Men in California, 1945-1965,” featuring interviews with some of our early UCSF HIV faculty. If you missed my previous quarterly director’s newsletters, you can also catch-up on the ARI site.
Finally, I’d like to share with you the media coverage of our HIV investigators and clinicians from this year – from Rolling Stone, to a couple appearances in The New York Times, to The Guardian. The full list is attached – please join me in celebrating the well-deserved featuring of our team members.
I hope you all have a very happy holiday season and a relaxing new year. See you in 2019!
Paul Volberding, MD
Director, AIDS Research Institute