Professor Sharon Lewin part of huge HIV grant

Burnet Institute

04 August, 2011

Professor Sharon Lewin in her lab. Photo courtesy of Katrina Ferguson at Monash University.

Professor Lewin is one of a group of seven researchers (and the only Australian) awarded one of the biggest investments into HIV research in history.

She has joined some of the world’s best HIV researchers awarded a $20 million grant for the sole purpose of finding a cure for HIV.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) have invested a total of $40 million to fund three collaboratories , mostly based in the US, with a view that at some stage the three large groups will work together.

“It’s all new research and it’s really exciting to be part of it. Not just because of the funding but it’s an opportunity for collaboration and access to amazing sample sets and to be part of new research internationally in its earliest stages,” Professor Lewin said.

Professor Lewin is in charge of three main projects, one will try and find a better way to track latently infected cells in patients on anti HIV drugs.

Another will use the model of infected sleeping cells that her lab recently developed to screen new compounds that can wake persistent virus.

The last is related to a clinical trial she is leading of a cancer drug and how it might work on persistent virus in patients on treatment.

“This funding will, without a doubt, accelerate the path to hopefully one day finding a cure for HIV,” Professor Lewin said.

“It’s a huge amount of money with the capacity to apply for more. Our group has seven projects, the other group has 15 and the third has four or five, so the pressure is on….for all of us… use the money wisely, do some great Science and hopefully find a cure. It’s a unique opportunity and we intend to make the most of it.”

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