University of Minnesota AIDS Clinic Funding Pulled, Leaving Center Worried
January 31, 2007
The University of Minnesota's AIDS Clinical Trial Unit (ACTU), one of the first federally funded research sites in the country, has learned it is one of 10 programs nationally that will lose National Institutes of Health funding. Officially, NIH says it has "not yet finalized" the funding review process with respect to several sites comprising part of the AIDS Clinical Trials Group. ACTU Director Dr. Hank Balfour said the units will likely lose funding to overseas research sites, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa.
"Being in the center of the United States puts us in a vulnerable position in a sense, because the perception, which is wrong, is we don't have a lot of HIV/AIDS," said Balfour. "The other perception, which is wrong, is we don't have a lot of minorities affected by HIV/AIDS." He added that other sites being closed, including those in Iowa, Nebraska, and Hawaii, are not viewed as diverse as some others.
Since 1987, ACTU has enrolled more than 2,000 volunteers for HIV/AIDS studies, particularly those for safety and dosing of new HIV drugs. The funding loss is both a setback for Minnesota and regional patients, since they will no longer be able to enroll in cutting-edge clinical trials research, said Balfour.
ACTU's NIH funding lasts through 2007, after which Balfour is uncertain of the site's relation with the agency. Temporary funding through the university's International Center for Antiviral Research and Epidemiology will allow ACTU to continue three years without additional support.
01.29.07; Mike Enright, Minnesota Daily