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The GW Hatchet


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The GW Hatchet

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GW-led D.C. institution lands $7.5 million grant for AIDS research

A center in the city that spearheaded AIDS research in the 1980s just got at $7.5 million boost to increase its research capability, according to a University release Tuesday.

The National Institute of Health has granted nearly $8 million over the course of five years to the District of Columbia Center for AIDS Research, which is the first AIDS research facility in the District, according to the release. Researchers from around D.C., including professors from three of GW’s schools, will focus on finding ways to prevent the spread of the disease and a cure for it.

The center’s two leaders both come from GW. Alan Greenberg, who chairs the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, serves as the center’s director with Gary Simon, a professor of medicine and of microbiology and tropical medicine. The release said Simon diagnosed the first patient in D.C. with AIDS in 1981 at the University’s hospital.

Greenberg said in the release that the grant money will make D.C. “a destination city” for research.

More than 200 researchers are part of the center, including professors and administrators from GW, American, Georgetown and Howard universities, the Children’s National Medical Center and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

The NIH first created the center in 2010 with a nearly $4 million grant and has been running on that amount until this influx of grant money. Greenberg said in an email that the center has recruited 42 new HIV investigators and has received 57 new HIV awards from the NIH since it opened five years ago.

Greenberg said the center had to submit a more than 1,000-page application to get the $7.5 million grant.

GW has a history of receiving grants from the NIH. The Milken Institute School of Public Health secured 21 grants from the institute last fiscal year, totaling about $20 million of the nearly $400 million GW receives from the NIH.

Greenberg said that the research will help combat the severe epidemic the District is facing. More than 16,000 D.C. residents have HIV, according to the release.

“The DC CFAR will support and promote the HIV research programs of GW-based investigators,” Greenberg said. “As the coordinating DC CFAR institution, we have an important responsibility to ensure the engagement and participation of the participating institutions, faculty investigator members and affected communities in Washington, DC.”

Princy Kumar, a professor of medicine and microbiology at Georgetown University and the director of the clinical population science core for the center, said in an email that her role is to make it easier for populations in D.C. with high risks for HIV to access treatment.

She added that though there are no current plans to involve her students with the center, there are still ways for students to help out.

“If any students have a good research project, they can apply for a grant through the CFAR with their mentor,” Kumar said.

Anthony Wutoh, dean of the College of Pharmacy and assistant provost for international programs at Howard University and the co-director of the developmental core for the center, said in an email he wants to develop the next generation of HIV researchers in D.C., and to increase graduate student participation with the research at Howard.

“Howard University will lead in the training of minority and women researchers making significant contributions to HIV prevention, treatment, epidemiologic, and basic science research,” Wutoh said.

Ryan Lasker contributed reporting.

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