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Renowned Institute of Human Virology to Become Part of UM School of Medicine

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

 SOM professor Dr. Robert Gallo is co-discoverer of HIV as the cause of AIDS and developer of the first HIV blood test.

The University of Maryland School of Medicine has announced that the Baltimore-based Institute of Human Virology (IHV) will move into the School of Medicine, formalizing a relationship that began when the institute was founded in 1996. IHV will become the School of Medicine’s only institute and will continue its mission of focusing on biomedical research leading to improved treatment and prevention of chronic viral diseases such as HIV/AIDS and cancer. IHV will become a vital component of each of the school’s academic, research and clinical missions.

"We are extremely pleased that the Institute of Human Virology is officially joining the School of Medicine," says E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A, vice president of medical affairs for the University of Maryland and dean of the School of Medicine. "We look forward to a renewed and re-invigorated collaborative relationship with IHV’s researchers and staff as we work together to find treatments and cures for HIV/AIDS and some of the world’s deadliest viral diseases and infections."

IHV, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, previously resided in the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute. It was formed as a partnership between the state of Maryland, the City of Baltimore, the University System of Maryland and the University of Maryland Medical System and is home to world-renowned experts in virology.

IHV’s nearly 300 employees include more than 50 University of Maryland School of Medicine faculty members, whose research efforts are focused in the area of chronic human viral infection and disease. More than 75 percent of the institute’s clinical and research efforts target HIV infection, but other viruses associated with Hepatitis C, herpes and cancer are also studied.

"The increasing size and complexity of IHV’s scientific research programs, as well as our growing translational research and clinical efforts, make it appropriate that IHV affiliate wholly with the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Our expertise in HIV/AIDS research, care and treatment ensures a very productive future with the School of Medicine," says Robert C. Gallo, MD, director of the Institute of Human Virology, co-discoverer of HIV as the cause of AIDS and developer of the first HIV blood test, who is also a professor of medicine and microbiology & immunology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "IHV’s Board of Advisors and Scientific Advisory Board have provided tremendous support through the years as we have grown from a small center into a large research and clinical care facility with an annual budget of more than $50 million. These, and our proven track record of expediting scientific discoveries from the laboratory to patients, are among the strengths that IHV brings to the School of Medicine."
IHV will add more than $28 million in research funding to the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s $350 million research enterprise. The institute also has international collaborations at 109 sites in 36 countries, including China, Haiti, Israel, Mexico and Nigeria.

"IHV has an innovative effort underway to find an effective HIV/AIDS preventive vaccine, while carrying out research on a number of other virally-linked diseases," says Dr. Gallo. "We also provide care and treatment to nearly 4,500 people living with HIV/AIDS in the Baltimore area, and to nearly 100,000 people through our treatment programs in Africa and the Caribbean."

IHV researchers have been awarded more than 20 patents since the institution’s founding and discovered chemokines, the first known naturally occurring HIV inhibitors. They subsequently discovered that chemokine levels correlate positively with progression to AIDS in HIV-positive patients. Additionally, they created a gene-based method for detecting dangerous microbes that could lead to disease in the human body long before they can be detected by traditional means.

"The University of Maryland School of Medicine shares the entrepreneurial and scientific spirit embodied by the Institute of Human Virology," says Dr. Reece. "We are confident that IHV will contribute enormously to the many technologies and discoveries made by School of Medicine faculty in our search for treatments and cures for illnesses and diseases that affect people in Baltimore, Maryland and the world."

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