Tennessee: Vanderbilt University, Meharry Get AIDS Research Center
May 30, 2003
A new Center for AIDS Research is being established in Nashville to promote a four-front attack on HIV/AIDS. One of 20 CFARs nationwide, it will be jointly operated by Vanderbilt University and Meharry Medical College, and will be the first CFAR to include a traditionally African-American institution.
Established with a three-year, $2.5 million federal grant, the center will consist of four divisions. These will focus on clinical investigation to help bring laboratory results to patients; getting immunology lab facilities for researchers; developing viral and genetics lab services for researchers; and channeling grant money to promising new projects.
Nashville becomes the fifth CFAR in the Southeast, where the national AIDS epidemic has become most concentrated. "We hope to learn why there is a higher prevalence in African Americans and more severe problems with the disease among blacks in this part of the country," said Dr. Richard T. D'Aquila, head of Vanderbilt's infectious diseases division and the center's director. In Davidson County in 2002, there were 112 new AIDS cases among blacks and 98 new cases among whites, though whites outnumber blacks there almost three to one.
Janet Young, CFAR program officer in the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the coming-together of the two schools "can be quite synergistic." The Vanderbilt-Meharry programs reach from North Nashville to Haiti, where Vanderbilt's AIDS Clinical Trials Center recently began a collaboration.
The new CFAR program's associate director, Dr. Vladimir Berthaud, said the epidemic seems to have "plateaued" in the rest of the country but not in the Southeast, and researchers do not know why. The theories include a lack of access to medical care, genetic problems, behavioral problems, infrastructure problems, and "and it could be all of the above," Berthaud said. D'Aquila said the function of the center will be to help Nashville AIDS research proceed as rapidly as possible by getting lab work done quickly and at cost, as well as financing introductory research so it can qualify for federal funding.
05.23.03; Jack Hurst
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.