Virology & Immunology
HIV/AIDS ranks among the deadliest infectious epidemics ever recorded, along with the Middle Age’s bubonic plague, the 18th century’s small pox epidemic and the great influenza epidemic of 1918–19. HIV/AIDS has infected more than 60 million people around the world—and killed 34 million since first being identified in the early 1980s. Today’s antiretroviral drugs can help people with HIV/AIDS survive the disease—but patients require lifelong treatment of daily medications for the virus that persists in a dormant, drug-insensitive form. In the United States alone, more than one million people live with HIV/AIDS at an annual cost of $34 billion.
Gladstone has been working to fight this devastating disease for more than 20 years. In that time, we have fundamentally changed our understanding of HIV infection. We recently discovered and characterized proteins in semen that enhance HIV’s ability to infect the immune system—a discovery that one day could help curb the global spread of this deadly pathogen. We also led the global and groundbreaking iPrEx study, showing how a daily pill can prevent HIV infection in people likely to come in contact with the virus. And we’ve solved the decades-old mystery of how HIV destroys cells, defined the functions of several HIV proteins and helped define the HIV lifecycle. These findings are spurring innovative strategies for preventing, treating and—ultimately—curing HIV/AIDS.
Our research also encompasses other areas of human health, highlighting our strategy to give scientists the freedom to follow their research wherever it leads. Gladstone virologists discovered, for example, the critical impact several enzymes called sirtuins have on aging, cancer and diabetes. These discoveries not only enhance our fundamental understanding of these conditions, but also point to potential therapeutic strategies for treating them. Our research on sirtuins is also informing our ongoing investigation into the phenomenon of accelerated aging among people with HIV/AIDS. To be sure, our work on this disease is by no means done. For these individuals, and all those who may be exposed to the virus, there is no time to lose.
And as we continue our research, our principal investigators—who are also professors at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)—are busy training the next generation of investigators to assume leadership roles in scientific discovery around the globe. On an ongoing basis, we work with an extraordinary group of postdoctoral fellows and graduate students who add tremendous energy to our virology and immunology research. Their combined contributions to human health and Gladstone—a nimble organization that is unencumbered by large-institution bureaucracy—are stunning. To learn more about training at Gladstone, please visit the Training Programs section of our website.