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Expanded AIDS Research and Microbicide Trials to Include HIV Positive and Uninfected People.

CLEVELAND -- The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded multi-year, multi-million dollar grants to The Case Clinical Trials Unit centered at University Hospitals Case Medical Center (UHCMC), for expanded research options in HIV treatment development and pioneering advances of the Microbicides Trials Network.

The seven-year funding award is comprised of $2.1 million for the first year of clinical trials research as well as additional funds to support an immunology laboratory housed at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, one of five such funded labs in the nation. The grant will allow University Hospitals Case Medical Center, a top-ranked AIDS Clinical Trials Unit, to continue and significantly expand the work of its clinical research. The grant money will also fund collaborative sites at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland and at the Joint Clinical Research Center (JCRC) in Kampala, Uganda.

"We are very pleased to have received this award," said Michael M. Lederman, M.D., the principal investigator of the Case AIDS Clinical Trials Unit at UHCMC and Director of the Case Western Reserve University Center for AIDS Research. "The NIH-funded AIDS Clinical Trials Group [ACTG] in which our Unit has participated since 1987, has established the standards for HIV care that have resulted in the dramatic improvements in the survival and quality of life for persons with HIV infection. Many challenges remain for persons with HIV infection and addressing these challenges remains the mission of the ACTG."

In addition to continuing its research on HIV treatment trials, the award provides funds for the Case Clinical Trials Unit to participate in the newly established Microbicides Trials Network. Microbicides refer to topical treatments in the form of a gel, foam, cream, or depot device that could decrease or prevent the sexual transmission of HIV. The development of an effective HIV microbicide has been the focus of much international attention as a promising method of slowing the spread of HIV around the world. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that approximately 40,000 people become infected with HIV each year in the United States, while over 4 million people become infected each year with HIV around the world.

"By joining the new Microbicides Trials Network," Dr. Lederman continued, "we will be able to bring our local researchers into collaboration with an international network focused on topical strategies to prevent HIV transmission. We will also be able to provide Greater Clevelanders with the opportunity to participate in research that could directly save millions of lives."

The funding of the clinical research site in Uganda stems from a successful HIV-research collaboration between Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and the Joint Clinical Research Centre (JCRC) in Kampala began in 1991. "The opening of the clinical research site in Uganda reflects a strong collaborative relationship between the two institutions, and the dedication and hard work of physicians and staff in both Uganda and Cleveland," said Robert A. Salata, MD, Chief of Division of Infectious Diseases and HIV Medicine at University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Co-Principal Investigator of the Case Medical Center Clinical Trials Unit. The Ugandan Clinical Research Site will be under the leadership of Peter Mugyeni, M.D., of the JCRC.

The AIDS Clinical Trials Group, the largest AIDS-related research consortium in the world, has been at the forefront of the medical advances which have dramatically improved the clinical care, survival and quality of life of HIV-positive people. The Group has been integrally involved in the development of new antiretroviral medications, the testing of novel immune-based therapies, and treatments for HIV-related opportunistic infections. During the new award period, the Group will expand the scope of its research to conduct clinical trials for acutely infected people, designing interventions for people who have recently become infected with HIV and the design of preventive strategies for persons who have not become infected with HIV.

"One key element to our past and future success is the continued interest of physicians, patients and healthy volunteers in our research trials", says Dr. Benigno Rodriguez, Co-investigator in the ACTU. For more information about these trials and volunteer opportunities visit www.clevelandactu.org or call 216-844-AIDS.

Since 2000, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine researchers have brought over $125 million to Cleveland to conduct AIDS-related research. In addition to the AIDS Clinical Trials Unit, Case Western Reserve University is home to one of 20 Centers for AIDS Research (CFAR) located in the United States. The CFAR program was established by the NIH to promote collaboration between basic and clinical researchers on AIDS-related projects, emphasizing translational research in which findings from the laboratory are brought to the clinic and vice versa. The Case CFAR provides clinical and technological support to researchers working on AIDS-related projects at Case Western Reserve University, University Hospitals Case Medical Center, MetroHealth Medical Center, the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, and several international sites.

About Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

Founded in 1843, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine is the largest medical research institution in Ohio and 12th largest among the nation's medical schools for research funding from the National Institutes of Health. Eleven Nobel Laureates have been affiliated with the school.

The School of Medicine is recognized throughout the international medical community for outstanding achievements in teaching and in 2002, became the third medical school in history to receive a pre-eminent review from the national body responsible for accrediting the nation's academic medical institutions. The School's innovative and pioneering Western Reserve2 curriculum interweaves four themes -- research and scholarship, clinical mastery, leadership, and civic professionalism -- to prepare students for the practice of evidence-based medicine in the rapidly changing health care environment of the 21st century.

Annually, the School of Medicine trains more than 600 M.D. and M.D./Ph.D. students and ranks in the top 25 among U.S. research-oriented medical schools as designated by U.S. News and World Report Guide to Graduate Education.

The School of Medicine's primary clinical affiliate is University Hospitals Case Medical Center and is additionally affiliated with MetroHealth Medical Center, the Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, with which it established the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University in 2002. http://casemed.case.edu

About University Hospitals

With 150 locations throughout Northeast Ohio, University Hospitals serves the needs of patients through an integrated network of hospitals, outpatient centers and primary care physicians. At the core of our Health System is University Hospitals Case Medical Center. The primary affiliate of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, University Hospitals Case Medical Center is home to some of the most prestigious clinical and research centers of excellence in the nation and the world, including cancer, pediatrics, women's health, orthopedics and spine, radiology and radiation oncology, neurosurgery and neuroscience, cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, organ transplantation and human genetics. Its main campus includes the internationally celebrated Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, ranked best in the Midwest and first in the nation for the care of critically ill newborns; MacDonald Women's Hospital, Ohio's only hospital for women; and Ireland Cancer Center, which holds the nation's highest designation by the National Cancer Institute of Comprehensive Cancer Center. For more information, go to www.uhhospitals.org

Note to Editors: In the text above, the "2" after "Western Reserve" should be subscript.
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Date:Feb 22, 2007
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