AIDS Vaccine 2013: Conference set to open with “progress, partnership and perserverance” . . . and leading researchers benched by shutdown

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aidsvaccine2013Science Speaks is live-blogging from AIDS Vaccine 2013 this week. Meeting in Barcelona, Spain, with the theme “Progress, Partnership and Perserverance,” from Oct. 7 to Oct. 10, this event brings together a history of hope, and an update on opportunities that have shown themselves in recent years.

The voice of Dr. Anthony Fauci sounded, clear, emphatic, and, Wizard-of-Oz-like, disembodied at the opening press conference of AIDS Vaccine 2013 Barcelona today, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases apologizing for not being there in person, “because of the extraordinary situation of the government of the United States.”

Sidelined by a Congressional standoff that halted government services last week, Fauci and other U.S. researchers will rely on technology to give them a spectator’s view of a scientific conference their work has made possible.

FauciAtAIDSVaccine2013Organizers said today at the conference opening they had worked hard to replace all the original speakers who were kept from presenting their work here. A handout lists the program changes necessitated by the U.S. government shutdown, including the cancellation of “A NIAID Perspective of Where We Are and What is Still Needed” at Tuesday’s first and main session.

Fauci, who had  gotten up at 4:30 a.m. Bethesda, Maryland time, to attend the press conference by phone and answer questions, also had prepared remarks that were distributed, and has taped the talk  shown at the conference’s opening session later today. But he, and others who have played leading roles in funding, guiding and carrying out the research that will be presented this week will not be taking part in the day-to-day, face to face, spur-of-the moment, hall-side chats that participants here agree comprise a productive part of what happens here.


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