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Institute of Human Virology Hosts 20th Annual International Meeting of Top Medical Virus Researchers in Baltimore, Maryland

The Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine yesterday commenced IHV’s 20th Annual International Meeting, to be held through Thursday, October, 25 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland. This year, among other viral and cancer related topics, the meeting is holding special sessions on the 40th anniversary of the first human retrovirus, Human T cell Leukemia Virus (HTLV), and the 15th anniversary of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). IHV’s Annual International Meeting attracts hundreds of elite scientists who descend upon Baltimore to share ideas and inspire medical virus research collaborations.

“Our meeting is designed to highlight cutting-edge science and provide a platform for provocative discussion,” said Robert C. Gallo, MD, The Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine, Co-founder and Director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Co-founder and Director of the Global Virus Network (GVN). “It is clear from yesterday’s session that there is still much research needed forty years since announcing our discovery of HTLV-1 at a Cold Spring Harbor meeting. It is my hope that governments far and wide will recognize this need and provide the resources needed. I am looking forward to hearing about the enormous success of PEPFAR during our special sessions tomorrow, and about the lessons learned which could potentially be applicable to the HTLV pandemic today.”

The meeting program’s organization was led by Man Charurat, PhD, Professor of Medicine and the Director of the Division of Epidemiology and Prevention of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. In addition to the Institute’s special sessions on HTLV and PEPFAR this year, the meeting comprised of interesting sessions on HIV, cancer research, particularly immune therapy of various cancers, and emerging global health challenges.

During a gala held Wednesday, October 24, the 2018 IHV Lifetime Achievement Awardees, who are nominated and voted upon by IHV faculty, will be honored.

The 2018 IHV Lifetime Achievement for Excellence in Medical Education, Clinical Care and Clinical Research will be awarded to Henry Masur, MD, Chief of Critical Care Medicine Department at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center.

“Dr. Masur was already a leader in the early 1980s and helped the medical field confront the then new epidemic called AIDS,” said Dr. Gallo. “Currently, Dr. Masur is tackling the ongoing AIDS epidemic disproportionately affecting marginalized people with health disparities in Washington DC, which has been highly successful in controlling HIV transmission, and for the early, rapid development of hepatitis C therapeutics. Dr. Masur is also a terrific role model and mentor for several HIV and infectious disease physicians, qualities not seen enough these days. We are pleased to honor Dr. Masur with this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award.”

The 2018 IHV Lifetime Achievement for Excellence in Clinical Research will be awarded to Kiyoshi Takatsuki, MD, PhD, Professor Emeritus at Kumamoto University in Japan.

“Dr. Takatsuki was the first to recognize an epidemiological disease occurrence of a specific kind of human leukemia, called Adult T cell Leukemia (ATL),” said Dr. Gallo. “He and his colleagues also discovered very specific features of the leukemic cells that are a virtual diagnostic marker of this leukemia. They defined particular presence of ATL in epidemic form in the south-western part of Japan. Later, my colleagues and I discovered the cause of this disease, HTLV-1. Dr. Takatsuki’s milestone observation contributed to our ability to open a whole new field of human retroviruses. We are very pleased to honor Kiyoshi Dr. Takatsuki with IHV’s top award.”

Since IHV’s founding, the Baltimore-based Institute faculty and staff have grown from 50 to more than 300, and the Institute's patient base has grown from just 200 patients to currently nearly 6,000 in Baltimore and Washington, DC, and more than 1.5 million in 10 African and 2 Caribbean nations since 2004. IHV is also internationally renowned for its basic science research, which includes a promising preventive HIV vaccine funded largely by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and, in part, by others including National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

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About the Institute of Human Virology

Formed in 1996 as a partnership between the State of Maryland, the City of Baltimore, the University System of Maryland and the University of Maryland Medical System, IHV is an institute of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and is home to some of the most globally-recognized and world-renowned experts in all of virology. The IHV combines the disciplines of basic research, epidemiology and clinical research in a concerted effort to speed the discovery of diagnostics and therapeutics for a wide variety of chronic and deadly viral and immune disorders - most notably, HIV the virus that causes AIDS. For more information, and follow us on Twitter @IHVmaryland.

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Last Updated: 23-Oct-2018