Action Cycling Atlanta gears up for AV200 charity bike ride

By Holly Korschun | Woodruff Health Sciences Center | May 17, 2012

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The AIDS Vaccine 200 is a two-day, 200-mile ride to raise money for the Emory Vaccine Center and is organized by Action Cycling Atlanta—an all-volunteer organization.

More than 200 bicycle riders will join Action Cycling Atlanta's 10th annual AV200 (AIDS Vaccine 200) on May 19-20. The two-day, 200-mile ride primarily benefits HIV vaccine research at the Emory Vaccine Center.

The AV200 already has raised more than $1 million for AIDS vaccine research, with the all-volunteer Action Cycling Atlanta donating 100 percent of all monies raised by participants to its beneficiaries. The event is one of the Emory Vaccine Center's principal sources of fundraising and is designed to fill the gap between grants and open unrestricted avenues of research in developing a vaccine for the AIDS virus.

Bret Busch, president of Action Cycling Atlanta, says, "The AV200 Steering Committee has stepped up their efforts to make the 10th annual AIDS Vaccine 200 bigger and better than ever. With over 200 riders and almost 100 volunteers registered, we will certainly exceed all our goals, including funding for AIDS vaccine research at Emory. This year's ride is a testament to teamwork and passion exhibited at all levels of the organization, and an incredible team at Emory. I look forward to seeing everyone on the road next weekend."

The Emory Vaccine Center's mission is to improve human health by conducting fundamental and clinical research culminating in the development of effective vaccines against infectious diseases worldwide.

The ride begins Saturday morning at Emory School of Medicine and travels east through the cities of Atlanta, Stone Mountain, Walnut Grove, Social Circle, and Madison, with an overnight stop at Camp Rock Eagle in the Oconee National Forest and return on Sunday afternoon to Emory. Participants include individual riders and relay teams, and the ride is fully supported by volunteer crew members.

"An effective AIDS vaccine is critical to the fight against this challenging global disease," says Rafi Ahmed, PhD, director of the Emory Vaccine Center and a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar. "The Emory Vaccine Center is a world leader in this effort, and funding for our research scientists is helping them make extraordinary advances in understanding the immune system and in creating vaccines to prevent and treat HIV infection."

The Emory Vaccine Center is one of the largest academic vaccine centers in the world and is renowned for its expertise in cellular immunity and immune memory. A few of the projects that have been supported by Action Cycling's annual AV200 include:

  • Development of one of the world's first preventive AIDS vaccines, currently being tested in phase II clinical trials, and development of a therapeutic vaccine in early stage clinical testing.
  • Combating AIDS in Africa through prevention, counseling and vaccine development and testing.
  • Innovative discoveries about the immune system leading to new strategies designed to fight chronic infections like HIV/AIDS.
  • Testing of potential new HIV/AIDS vaccines at The Hope Clinic of the Emory Vaccine Center in Atlanta as part of the premier National Institutes of Health HIV Vaccine Trials Network
  • At the Vaccine Center's satellite campus in New Delhi, development of an AIDS vaccine designed specifically for the strain of HIV prevalent in India.