Local Group Wins $21M HIV Research Grant

A research consortium, co-led by a scientist at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, won a $21 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the immune system's response to the early stages of HIV infection, it was announced Monday.

The project, headed by Salk Institute professor John Young and Sumit Chanda, an associate professor at Florida's Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, will draw on the expertise of 13 researchers at seven institutions.

"The team working on this grant wants to understand how the innate immune system functions as a whole, with the goal of building accurate mathematical and experimental models that can ultimately be used to inform vaccine design and used to predict which cellular factors represent new targets for antiviral therapies," Young said.

He also said the study will look at why some individuals differ in their susceptibility to HIV infection.

According to Chanda, the biological processes that happen immediately after exposure to HIV are poorly understood.

She said the consortium funded by the grant will allow for the integration of the latest technology with leading experts in immunology and virology to decode the early molecular events that occur after HIV enters the body.