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Emory-CDC HIV Clinical Trials Group leads studies in four countries through NIH networks

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Holly Korschun

On World AIDS Day 2017, Emory research leaders in the Emory-CDC HIV Clinical Trials Unit (CTU), funded in 2013 through a seven-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), reflected on the importance of clinical trials in the progress made in HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention.

"Clinical trials research has had a tremendous impact on improving and saving the lives of people at risk for HIV or living with the disease," says Carlos del Rio, MD, co-principal investigator of the Emory-CDD HIV CTU. "Although we still have a long way to go in eliminating this worldwide epidemic, I'm very proud of our efforts at Emory to collaborate on groundbreaking clinical trials."

The Emory-CDC HIV CTU is one of 37 clinical trials units responsible for implementing the scientific agenda of the NIH international HIV/AIDS clinical research network. This network is funded by the NIH through the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. In addition to two clinical sites in Atlanta -- the Ponce de Leon Center and the Hope Clinic -- the CTU includes clinical research sites in Kisumu, Kenya, Bangkok, Thailand and Manila, Philippines.

"Emory's partnership with CDC in the pursuit of effective vaccines, prevention strategies and drugs that can change the quality of people's lives has been possible because of the support of our federal partners at NIH and our collaborators at other health care institutions in the U.S. and abroad," says co-principal investigator Jeffrey Lennox, MD. "Clinical trials are an essential component of our efforts to meet the challenge of this devastating disease."

The 2013 designation expanded the scope of the CTU network -- originally designated in 2007 – to include the treatment and prevention of not only HIV/AIDS, but also tuberculosis and hepatitis, which are the most significant co-infections for people infected with, or at risk for, HIV. Over the past four years the CTU has participated in eight vaccine, prevention and treatment studies through three national networks: the AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG), HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) and HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN).

"The Hope Clinic allows Emory Vaccine Center clinical investigators to make national and international clinical trials available to the broader Atlanta community," says executive director Mark Mulligan, MD. "We offer a wide variety of clinical studies to people at risk for HIV, those who are infected, and also to individuals who are simply interested in helping advance the science of HIV prevention and treatment."

The three CTU principal investigators are:

  • Carlos del Rio, MD, Hubert Professor and Chair of the Hubert Department of Global Health at Emory's Rollins School of Public Health and professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine
  • Jeffrey Lennox, MD, associate dean for clinical research and professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine
  • Mark J. Mulligan, MD, executive director of the Hope Clinic of the Emory Vaccine Center and professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine

Clinical sites in Atlanta for the CTU include the Ponce de Leon Center, the HIV/AIDS outpatient center, which houses the outpatient infectious disease clinics of Grady Health System and is one of the largest and most comprehensive HIV/AIDS treatment facilities in the country; and the Hope Clinic of the Emory Vaccine Center, located in Decatur, near the Emory campus.

The Kenya site is a collaboration of the Kenya Medical Research Institute and the CDC. The site in Thailand is a collaboration of the Thai Ministry of Health and CDC. The Manila site is a collaboration with the De La Salle Health Sciences Institute. 

More information about the Emory-CDC Clinical Trials Unit is available here.

More information about the NIH HIV Clinical Trials Networks is available here.

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