California Research Center for the Biology of HIV in Minorities

Richard Pollard, UC–Davis

Investigators at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine with their partner the Viral and Rickettsial Disease Laboratory of the California Department of Health Services have formed a California Research Center for the Biology of HIV in Minorities. The investigators will also focus on gender differences and will conduct specifi c studies focused on women. The source of patient subjects for the research will be the Center for AIDS Research Education and Services in Sacramento. The investigators feel that detailed biologic studies focusing on immunologic and virologic differences in HIV-infected subjects of different ethnicities and in women are important to describe differences that can be used to tailor therapeutic interventions depending onthe results. The clinical site provides HIV care for a diverse patient population which will facilitate the studies as proposed.

The major research project is focused on studies at local versus systemic HIV-specific immune responses and viral diversity. In order to eventually develop vaccines that are targeted at stimulating local protective responses to HIV exposure, understanding of the presence of such responses and how they change over time will be studies. Studies of viral diversity will also be performed to understand whether or not viruses diverge differently in different sites and they change over time. Viruses will be obtained from genital and rectal sites and compared to those obtained in plasma.

The investigators will accomplish these goals through several infrastructure components. An Administrative Core manages the fi nances of the Center, performs regulatory and reporting functions, maintains databases and a website and provides statistical support to the Center. A Pilot Project Core solicits proposals, conducts their review and monitors their progress. The pilot projects will focus on the overall theme of the Center and be funded by UARP resources as well as additional UC Davis resources. A Clinical Core will develop a repository and clinical database on subjects with specimens in the repository. It will also assist Center investigators in the design and conduct of clinical projects. An Immunology Core will provide advanced fl ow expertise and instrumentation as well as access to a large number of other immunologic assays. A Virology Core located at the partner institution will perform sequencing, tropism assays, resistance assays and other virologic assays required by the Center investigators.

The Center will also enhance HIV research at the partnering institutions, conduct regular seminars and provide training. Important new information about HIV in ethnic minorities and women in California will be developed by this Center.