Now is the Time: HIV Cure

December 1st, 2015|Blog, HIV/AIDS|

A couple years ago, the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands convened dozens of leaders from science, government, philanthropy and industry at a meeting called the “Summit on Public-Private Partnerships for Research Toward a Cure.” IDRI was honored to be represented at this meeting as we discussed ways to bring HIV to an end. From this meeting the following strong and important consensus statement was agreed upon:  “More than 30 years into the global HIV/AIDS pandemic, scientific and clinical research has taken us to the point where a cure for HIV/AIDS is possible. Driven by the evidence supporting such possibility, The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands recently brought together key stakeholders from academia, government, foundations, and industry to discuss what actions could be taken to accelerate efforts towards the goal of a cure for HIV infection. The group concluded that now is the time to work collectively and aggressively to reach this goal with the ultimate objective of making a cure available to every person in need, wherever they happen to live in the world. Although effective antiviral therapies exist that can control HIV infection, curing HIV/AIDS — eradicating the virus from infected individuals or eliminating the need for lifelong antiviral therapy — will require an extraordinary, collaborative global effort, backed by strong and sustained political and industrial leadership. We believe that developing a cure for HIV is one of the most important biomedical challenges of the 21st century. It is clear that the task is too large and too complex for any one laboratory, company, or country to undertake in isolation. […]

The Emerald City: Filled with Generosity

October 20th, 2015|Blog, HIV/AIDS|

NOTE: Susan Galea is Director, Global Clinical Safety and Pharmacovigilance, for Merck; she is working for three months at IDRI as part of the Merck Fellowship for Global Health program. Galea and another Merck fellow, Todd Kennedy, are working on the HIV Cure Initiative, for which IDRI serves as the fiscal sponsor. Maybe I have been drinking the philanthropic water of this city, but I would be remiss not to mention the generosity that I have seen from day one of my Fellowship. The substantial investment that Merck has provided for these Fellowships can’t be overlooked. Simply put, through the Fellows that they provide, Merck is attempting to fortify nonprofit organizations with technical and human support. Specifically, here in Seattle, they have paired Todd Kennedy and me with the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) and our sponsor Erik Iverson. This organization is genuinely advancing global health. Many of the world’s most devastating diseases are getting attention here as they focus on new diagnostics, adjuvants, drugs and vaccines for diseases such as leprosy, leishmaniasis and tuberculosis. So why is IDRI the fiscal sponsor for HIV Cure Initiative?  They believe in the importance of this collaboration and give generously of their time with the belief that they share with relevant scientists:  HIV can be functionally cured or at least put into a remission state. […]

Going Global from Seattle? Collaboration and Caffeine

September 8th, 2015|HIV/AIDS|

NOTE: Todd Kennedy is a National Account Executive for Merck, who is working for three months at IDRI as part of the Merck Fellowship for Global Health program. Kennedy and another Merck fellow, Susan Galea, are working on the HIV Cure Initiative, for which IDRI serves as the fiscal sponsor. This is the Richard T. Clark Fellowship for Global Health, right? Wait, then what is a California guy doing in Seattle, Washington? In 12 short weeks can my fellow colleague Susan Galea and I make a significant global impact from the land of salmon, apples and grunge? These are the questions I was considering, before work on day 1 as I was sipping espresso from the original Starbucks at Pike Place Market. By 8:30 a.m., the potential and promise of our assignment came into focus. From the window of our sponsor’s conference room, you can literally see the offices of pivotal public and private stakeholders including leading NGOs (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Paul G. Allen Family Foundation), academia, pharma and biotech. It seems clear that the key to addressing global health challenges is collaboration among trusted partners, many of whom are located right here in the Pacific Northwest. Working with the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI), Susan and I have been asked to: “support development of an ‘investment case’ that will set forth a global health and economic rationale to catalyze multi-sector engagement in a strategic, collaborative effort to identify, develop, and distribute a cure for HIV that will be accessible in both high- and low-resource geographic settings.” […]

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