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Department of Retrovirology

Mission

The mission of the Department of Retrovirology is to prepare for and conduct clinical trials (phases I-III) of preventive HIV vaccines for use in U.S. military members deployed to HIV endemic areas outside the United States. This mission is supported through i) the evaluation of candidate vaccines for safety, immunogenicity and efficacy, ii) the identification and characterization of potential cohorts for phase III vaccine trials, iii) the establishment of diagnostic assays which differentiate infection from vaccine-induced immune responses, and iv) the establishment of virologic methods to characterize the HIV viruses circulating in risk areas and potential sites of vaccine trials and immunological methods to characterize the responses induced by candidate vaccines.

The department has recently completed the largest phase III HIV vaccine trial (RV144) conducted in Rayong and Chon Buri Provinces, Thailand, which enrolled more than 16,000 volunteers. This study showed for the first time that the vaccines - ALVAC-HIV and AIDSVAX B/E - provided modest efficacy and has offered insight for future research. This study also led to the most important discovery in the HIV vaccine research - the correlate of vaccine protection was discovered contributing to the vaccine efficacy. This collaborative study included more than 300 members of staff and multiple academic and governmental partners.

Current projects include follow-up studies of the completed phase III HIV vaccine trial. The Department of Retrovirology has the longer term goal of developing a portfolio of newer candidate vaccines for phase I-II testing, to include a subtype E (CRF01_AE) MVA vaccine candidate, DNA/MVA candidate, prime-boost regimens, and adjuvants. In addition, the department is developing new collaborations for studies of HIV care and treatment.

The focus of the work done by the Department of Retrovirology has been HIV vaccine development, and the science necessary to move vaccines from Phase I to Phase III testing. The research capabilities of the department include: clinical trials execution, epidemiology, molecular characterization of viruses, viral culture, cellular immunology, humoral immunology and innate immune responses.

The department has been engaged with research studies since the establishment of the Department in 1992 under the leadership of our past Department Chiefs. Currently, there are 16 protocols actively implemented within the department ,which is staffed by 4 physicians, 5 Ph.D. laboratory scientists, 17 clinical research staff, 40 laboratory technologists, and 17 quality assurance, research support and administrative staff. There are also some 8 protocols under scientific review or IRB submission, to be implemented within the coming years. We are at the forefront of the battle against HIV to protect U.S. troops from infection and to reduce the global impact of the disease.

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Recent Activities at AFRIMS
AFRIMS recent activities HIV Vaccine Study First to show effectiveness AFRIMS on Dengue at Voice of America AFRIMS on Malaria in New York Times AFRIMS researchers instructed 104 medical cadets from Phramongkutklao College of Medicine AFRIMS hosts infectious diseae surveillance workshop for laos PDR lab technicians AFRIMS concludes Pilat Malaria Prophylaxis clinical trial in Cambodia Dr. Rampa Rattanarathiul received the Belkin Award, The highest honor given by the AMCA Dedication and opening of joint AFPMC AFRIMS molecular laboratory in the Phillippines NBC shows story on drug resistant malaria on the Thai-Cambodia border in Cambodia Malaria Vaccine: Inside look at first human trial from BBC news HVRC opening ceremony Change of Command 2015 AFRIMS leaders join "Bike For Mom 2015" event US Embassy Employee of the Month Public Release of Joint Concept of Health Services Public Release of Joint Concept of Health Services more AFRIMS activities

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