Three Chicago health institutions are making the city one of the country’s leading centers of HIV and AIDS research, thanks to a five-year, $3.75 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.
The Developmental Center for AIDS Research, an institution that will integrate basic science, clinical studies and research in prevention, detection and treatment of HIV and AIDS, will be led by Rush University Medical Center. Also on board are the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Cook County Health and Hospitals System.
“With this grant, we have an unparalleled opportunity to make Chicago an epicenter for AIDS research,” says Dr. Alan Landay, center director and chairman of immunology and microbiology at Rush. He says the research will allow doctors to use their findings in hospital and community settings.
Chicago ranks sixth in the country in the number of HIV cases. A recent report issued by the city’s health department shows that 17 percent of gay men in Chicago have HIV, and half of them are not aware of their infection.
The center is the second of its kind in the Midwest, with a similar institution in Cleveland. The NIH funds 20 other such centers at American academic institutions. The Chicago center’s investigations will concentrate around three HIV-related themes: women, aging and drug use.
While research at individual institutions will continue, says UIC’s Dr. Robert Bailey, the center’s co-director, “This research initiative will provide opportunities for us to share and build upon our varied expertise and perspectives.”
The county health system’s Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center, which specializes in treating infectious disease and sees more than 5,000 HIV patients a year, will facilitate the clinical implementation of investigators’ research.
Dr. Audrey French, director of research at the CORE Center, said the inclusion of the county health system will allow researchers to better understand how HIV and AIDS affects the poor, minority populations the county serves.