Three South Florida Scientists Awarded Grant for HIV Research

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Three South Florida scientists on the front line in the HIV/AIDS battle have been given $25,000 grants to further their research. Scientists at the University of Miami, Florida International University and Broward Health are the proud recipients of the grants from The Campbell Foundation.

The Campbell Foundation’s mission is to eradicate HIV and AIDS in our lifetime through education, prevention and research. Now in its 22nd year, the Campbell Foundation has given away $10.4 million, with about $1.2 million going to direct services. The nonprofit has been funding cutting-edge research into a cure for HIV since its creation by the late Richard Campbell Zahn, the chemist who developed Herpecin-L Lip Balm for the treatment of cold sores and fever blisters.

One of the recipients is Dr. Maria L Alcaide of the Miami Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) at University of Miami. Her HIV research has been published in dozens of medical journals. Her grant will be used for a mentoring program with the aim of attracting, supporting and encouraging young investigators to the field of HIV research.

The $25,000 grant will be used to create a mentoring workshop, which will provide tools for mentors and mentees from academic institutions in South Florida. These workshops have been proven to encourage and support the development of the next generation of HIV scientists.

“South Florida is unique and we have a lot of challenges. Creating a pool of young investigators who focus on research in our region is crucial to ending the HIV epidemic in our area,” Alcaide said in a written statement.

HIV prevention is the goal of a team of researchers at the Broward Health Comprehensive Care Center in Fort Lauderdale. The center provides primary care services to those affected by HIV/AIDS. The center provides cutting edge treatment and care annually to more than 1,800 clients affected by HIV/AIDS.

The Campbell Foundation grant will be used to get high-risk HIV-negative women on anti-HIV medication (i.e. PrEP) to prevent new infections.

“If you really want to eradicate this disease, then you have to look at the other side of the equation and that is: How do we prevent people from getting infected in the first place?” said grant recipient Dr. Farouk Meklat, in a written statement, who will be conducting the study. “We want to prevent those who are most vulnerable and at risk from becoming HIV positive.”

HIV positive people face a lifetime of having to take antiretroviral medication daily. For some, remembering to take it becomes difficult. Missing medication can result in the loss of therapeutic effectiveness, and more dangerously, the formation of a medication-resistant strain of HIV.

Grant recipient Dr. Rahul Jayant, a researcher at FIU, is looking to develop a long-lasting antiretroviral medication.

“We already have developed a long-active nanoformulation, which can release antiretroviral drugs over a one-week period using our U.S. patented nanotechnology approach. Now, with the generous help from The Campbell Foundation, we will be working toward the development of single-dose formulation that can release the ARV drugs up to one month,” said Dr. Jayant in a written statement.

Many HIV patients tend to lose memory. This is particularly true with older HIV patients or those who are drug abusers. So the hope is a longer-lasting medication will help patients better adhere to their regimens.

You can learn more about The Campbell Foundation at CampbellFoundation.net.

 


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