PEOPLE WHO SHOW UP AT THE EMORY VACCINE CENTER'S HOPE CLINIC ARE EVALUATED AND GIVEN SHOTS BUT NOT BECAUSE THEY ARE SICK. Healthy themselves, they just want to be part of the promised “hope” in the clinic’s name.
     One such study volunteer is Emory scientist Nana Gletsu. She sees the havoc wrought worldwide by AIDS, especially in the poorest nations, and she understands the power of research. The Ghana native also knows that minority groups are often under-represented in clinical trials, a fact that makes differences in drug response among people of different genetic backgrounds harder to pinpoint. That’s why she spent almost two years regularly dashing from Emory’s Department of Surgery, where she works, to the small Hope Clinic tucked away in downtown Decatur. As a participant in a study of an HIV vaccine developed by Merck, she was at no risk of infection from the vaccine, which contained only one of the six proteins from HIV. The phase 1 trial, part of the FDA-mandated process to test drugs in human volunteers before they are allowed for use in the general population, was designed to determine if the components of the vaccine are as safe in humans as they had been shown to be in animals.
     “Sometimes I returned to work with a tender arm and a slight fever but always with a sense of satisfaction,” says Gletsu. She since has become active in Emory’s community outreach to promote AIDS prevention and participation in clinical trials.
     Gletsu is one of 300 healthy volunteers from the Emory and Atlanta community who have helped the Hope Clinic conduct more than a dozen clinical trials of vaccines for AIDS and other diseases. The clinic is part of the Emory Vaccine Center, which was established with support from the Georgia Research Alliance and is one of the largest programs in the country developing and testing vaccines for infectious diseases.

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The DNA Approach to AIDS vaccines
In a vaccine technique pioneered by Harriet Robinson, chief of microbiology at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory, bits of DNA from the AIDS virus prime the body’s immune system, and then poxvirus also carrying HIV DNA boosts the immune response. This vaccine proved remarkably effective in protecting rhesus macaques against a particularly virulent form of simian HIV. The results made believers of scientists who once doubted the DNA approach, won FDA approval for human trials of her vaccine, and bestowed virtual rock-star status on the unfailingly modest Robinson. Her DNA/poxvirus vaccine is now considered among those most likely to succeed in helping control the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Find answers:
> PEDAL HARD. Participate in the annual bike ride that benefits AIDS vaccine research at Emory. Or if you prefer a less sweaty alternative, sponsor an Emory cyclist with $100 or more.
> JUMP-START A CAREER IN GLOBAL HEALTH. Students in public health who want to spend their lives fighting AIDS and other diseases around the globe need field experiences to understand local needs firsthand. Student-initiated research projects allow students to translate the skills learned in the classroom to real-world settings while making important contributions to communities around the world. A gift of as little as $2500 can fund global field research and spark a career that will impact thousands worldwide for years to come.
> ESTABLISH A LABORATORY THAT CAN KEEP THE CYCLE GOING. New research findings always raise new questions. The income from a $350,000 endowment will allow “your” lab to add the equipment and technical support needed to keep an already established research project going.
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