AIDS: Taming the Modern Plague: High Schoolers Learn About Frontiers in HIV Research

February 15, 2001

Tags: Immune SystemAwards + Announcements

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Researchers emphasize the need for new drug targets and therapies for stopping HIV because the wily virus is mutating to form variants, which escape treatment by existing drugs. More alarming, treatment-resistant escapees have been sexually transmitted in some cases, say researchers.

Worldwide HIV continues to be a major public health menace, infecting more than 33 million people. While developed countries have access to the expensive drugs that suppress HIV infection, many poorer countries with large, infected populations have no treatment options.

At the Whitehead Winter Lecture Series for High School Students, approximately 140 students from 40 area schools—and four students travelling from Singapore for the program—will hear about scientists’ efforts toward creating better therapies to combat HIV.

WHEN: February 20, 21, and 22 from 10 am-1:30pm

WHERE: Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Nine Cambridge Center, Cambridge

On the first day of the program, Dr. Martin Hirsch of Massachusetts General Hospital will describe the current status and challenges of treating patients with AIDS. On the second day, Joseph Raulinaitis of the Food and Drug Administration will discuss the bench to bedside process—how does a drug go from being tested in animals to humans? On the third day, Dr. Richard Young of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research will present the latest on the future of AIDS research and treatment—vaccine development.

A panel discussion on the last day, "HIV—Forging Ahead," will focus on tackling future challenges to bring this devastating disease under control. Debra Eckert, Whitehead Institute, will talk about new therapeutic targets and drugs; Thumbi Ndung'u, Harvard AIDS Institute, will discuss the pathogenicity of different HIV strains; a patient infected with AIDS will talk about the importance of future research and the shortcomings of current therapies; and Pen MacDonald, Whitehead Institute, will conclude with the importance of peer discussion in AIDS prevention.

The students will also tour local biotechnology companies and Whitehead laboratories, where they will see demonstrations that illustrate some of the research being conducted at Whitehead. A lunch with Whitehead scientists, which encourages informal discussions about science and careers in science, will end each day.

The Whitehead Winter Lecture Series is part of the Whitehead Partnership for Science Education, an initiative to help improve science education throughout the Boston area.

A copy of the program is attached. If you would like to attend the lectures, are interested in doing a story, or just need more information, call Amy Tremblay at (617) 258-5183 or Nadia Halim at (617) 258-9183. The lab demonstrations make great photo opportunities!

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