NIH names new Office of AIDS Research director

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Post has been open since June 2015 departure of longtime leader Dr. Jack Whitescarver


Dr. Maureen Goodenow

“We still need a vaccine and we need a cure. So we need ways to protect people not infected, and we need to try to find ways that we can cure people who are . . .”

Dr. Maureen Goodenow, in a 2013 lecture at the U.S. State Department

A researcher who began her focus on HIV during the first decade of the epidemic at the French institute where the virus was discovered will be the next leader of the National Institutes of Health Office of AIDS Research, NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins announced today.

Dr. Maureen Goodenow, a professor of pathology, immunology and laboratory medicine at the University of Florida in Gainesville, who has served on a number of NIH advisory boards, and most recently as as acting director of research and science for the Office of U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, is scheduled to fill the post of NIH Associate Director for AIDS Research and Director of the Office of AIDS Research in July.

She succeeds Dr. Jack Whitescarver, the longest serving NIH Office of AIDS Resarch (commonly referred to as OAR) director, who announced in April 2015 that he would leave the post, and who stepped down two months later. Dr. Robert Eisinger has led the office in an acting position since then. The OAR was established in 1988 to coordinate AIDS research across NIH institutes, with National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, as its first leader. The next director, Dr. William Paul oversaw the expansion of the office’s role in setting national HIV research policy and developing an encompassing annual plan and budget for all NIH-sponsored AIDS research.

Dr. Goodenow, who earned her doctorate degree in molecular genetics at the the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and studied HIV at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, has a resume spanning three decades in HIV research, leadership and consultancies.

In 2013, in a talk at the U.S. Department of State, Dr. Goodenow spoke of encouraging results from the 2009 RV 144 HIV vaccine trial in Thailand, and noted that the results of the trial, which saw a 31 percent drop in infection rates among those given the vaccine, while not “dramatic,” had provided “proof of principle that a vaccine should be possible.”

Work towards that vaccine continues, with an announcement from NIAID today that a trial of a candidate based on that tested in Thailand, but designed to offer greater protection and adapted to the HIV subtype that predominates in southern Africa, is scheduled to begin in November.

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