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Researchers Extol Virtues of Team Science in Quest for HIV Cure

By Patricia Yollin | | June 25, 2013

Researchers Extol Virtues of Team Science in Quest for HIV Cure

Mike McCune, MD, PhD

In a lecture that represents one of the top recognitions that researchers can receive from their peers, two veteran UCSF doctors who have been battling the AIDS epidemic for decades retraced past efforts and described their ongoing quest for a cure for HIV.

Steven Deeks, MD, and Mike McCune, MD, PhD, are joint recipients of the UCSF Academic Senate’s Third Annual Faculty Research Lecture – Translational Science. On June 18 in Genentech Hall on the Mission Bay campus, they talked about “Team Science and the HIV Cure.”

“This team has consistently demonstrated elegant and creative work focused on the mechanisms and consequences of immune dysfunction in HIV-infected patients,” said Janet Myers, PhD, MPH, vice chair of the Academic Senate’s Committee on Research.

Paul Volberding, MD, director of the Center for AIDS Research at UCSF, introduced Deeks and McCune. Together, he said, the two have done remarkable things, including exploring the role of the thymus, effects of treatment discontinuation, viral fitness, the overall concept of HIV and aging, and the role of immune activation and microbial translocation.

Of the three large grants in the United States that are centered on finding a cure for HIV, one is being led by Deeks and McCune, Volberding said.

In short, Deeks and McCune are among UCSF's legendary leaders working on the frontlines of the field since its emergence more than three decades ago.

Their lectures, 45 minutes apiece, made it clear how their work has shifted the focus from HIV itself to how the immune system responds to the virus.

“Each of us has walked through this epidemic. We’ve seen the high points and the low points,” said McCune, chief of UCSF’s Division of Experimental Medicine, who stressed that getting rid of HIV will happen only with a group of people working together in a collegial and collaborative way.