Countdown to a Cure: The Effort to Finally Defeat AIDS
On a foggy summer day, Paul Volberding, MD, started rounds at San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) on his first day as a faculty member at UCSF. The year was 1981, and his first patient was a young man dying from a then-unknown disease that would soon define an era in San Francisco before becoming a worldwide epidemic.
Volberding would go on to become one of the world’s leading AIDS experts. He and other dedicated UCSF faculty members founded one of the nation’s first AIDS-designated clinics in Ward 86 at SFGH. They also developed the San Francisco Model, a comprehensive treatment model that became the standard in HIV care worldwide.
Along the way, Volberding and other scientists at UCSF made great strides in understanding the nature of HIV infection. Now they may be closer than ever to finding a cure, thanks to a $20 million gift from the Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR).
UCSF has been there right from the beginning of HIV. We’ve been committed to this epidemic for a long time, many of us collaborating as a team for decades. Now we are bringing it full circle and coming together to find a cure. It’s a great UCSF story!
With HIV still infecting millions globally, amfAR recently launched its “Countdown to a Cure for AIDS” initiative that is strategically investing $100 million in uncovering the scientific basis for a cure by 2020. To lead this effort, they chose a self-assembled, multidisciplinary team of world-class scientists, clinicians, and industry experts, and established the amfAR Institute for HIV Cure Research, led by Volberding and based at UCSF’s Mission Bay campus.
The team hopes to uncover the mysteries of HIV’s resourcefulness and discover an economical, orally administered, and transportable cure. The ambitious five-year timeline means they will need to take risks and push boundaries. But with potential to help millions of people and end one of the worst infectious disease epidemics in human history – the team is more than up for the challenge.
Read the complete story in UCSF Magazine.
Warner Greene heads up the Understanding team, which is shocking the virus out of hiding and killing it once it is revealed. Photo by Steve Babuljak.
Satish Pillai directs the Recording team, which is locating and determining the size of the dormant HIV reservoir. Photo by Steve Babuljak.
Steve Deeks leads the Eliminating team, which is focused on luring the virus out of hiding with immune response. Photo by Steve Babuljak.
new HIV infections globally in 2014
Percentage of global HIV-positive population living in sub-Saharan Africa
Percentage of HIV-positive population that cannot afford treatment