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Speaker Biographies

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., is the director of NIH. In that role, he oversees the work of the largest supporter of biomedical research in the world, spanning the spectrum from basic to clinical research. Dr. Collins, a physician-geneticist noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the international Human Genome Project, served as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at NIH from 1993 to 2008. The Human Genome Project culminated in April 2003 with the completion of a finished sequence of the human DNA genome. Dr. Collins received a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Virginia, a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Yale University, and an M.D. with honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to coming to NIH in 1993, he spent nine years on the faculty of the University of Michigan, where he was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. He is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Collins was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007 and the National Medal of Science in 2009.

Harold Varmus, M.D., is the director of NCI. He also serves as one of three co-chairs of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. He previously served as president and chief executive officer of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Much of Dr. Varmus's scientific work was conducted during 23 years as a faculty member at the University of California-San Francisco Medical School, where he and J. Michael Bishop, M.D., and their co-workers demonstrated the cellular origins of the oncogene of a chicken retrovirus. This discovery led to the isolation of many cellular genes that normally control growth and development and are frequently mutated in human cancer. For this work, Drs. Bishop and Varmus received the 1989 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. In 1993, Dr. Varmus was named by President Clinton to serve as the director of NIH, a position he held until the end of 1999.

Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., is the director of NIAID. He oversees an extensive research portfolio of basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose, and treat infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, influenza, tuberculosis, malaria, and illness from potential agents of bioterrorism. NIAID also supports research on transplantation and immune-related illnesses, including autoimmune disorders, asthma, and allergies. Dr. Fauci serves as one of the key advisors to the White House and Department of Health and Human Services on global AIDS issues and on initiatives to bolster medical and public health preparedness against emerging infectious disease threats such as pandemic influenza. Dr. Fauci has served as visiting professor at major medical centers throughout the country. He has delivered many major lectureships all over the world and is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards for his scientific accomplishments, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Science.

GaryJ. Nabel, M.D., Ph.D., is the director of the VRC at NIAID. The VRC was established by President Clinton in 1999 under Dr. Nabel’s leadership to assist in the development of a vaccine against AIDS. Dr. Nabel provides overall direction and scientific leadership of the basic, clinical, and translational research activities of the VRC and guides development of novel vaccine strategies against HIV and other emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, including Ebola/Marburg hemorrhagic fevers, influenza, and other viruses. The efforts of the VRC are directed toward several major areas of vaccine research and development, including the definition of immune mechanisms that may protect against HIV infection; the influence of cellular and humoral immune responses on protection; the conception, design, and preparation of vaccine candidates for HIV and other infectious diseases; and the initiation of multiple human clinical trials to test the safety and immune response of these vaccine candidates.

Ashley Haase, M.D., is the Regents' Professor and head of microbiology at the University of Minnesota- Minneapolis. Dr. Haase has devoted the past 25 years of his career to investigating human (HIV-1/AIDS) and nonhuman primate (SIV) lentivirus infections, and his laboratory is currently investigating the globally predominant sexual route of HIV transmission in the SIV rhesus macaque model with the goal of developing effective vaccines and microbicides. Dr. Haase was an NINDS Javits Award recipient and two-time recipient of an NIH Merit Award for his work on HIV and is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences

Ian A. Wilson, D.Phil., D.Sc., is a member of the molecular biology department and the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at the Scripps Research Institute. His research interests have focused on the structure and function of molecules of the immune system. His laboratory has determined manyantibodies-antigen complexes that include peptides, steroids, and proteins as antigens. These studies have led to advances in the understanding of induced fit, antibody-antigen complementarity, HIV-1 neutralization, and antibody catalysis. Dr. Wilson’s laboratory projects also include cellular immune recognition, particularly with respect to MHC Class I and Class II molecules, CD1, T-cell receptor and MHC-TCR recognition, folate-dependent enzymes of purine biosynthesis as chemotherapeutic targets, tissue factor, and cytokine receptors such as erythropoietin and IL-2.

Beatrice Hahn, M.D., is professor of medicine and microbiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Hahn received her M.D. from the University of Munich Medical School and pursued postdoctoral studies at the NCI Laboratory of Tumor Cell Virology. She joined the University of Alabama in 1985, where she is currently a professor and the co-director of the UAB Center for AIDS Research.  She has published over 200 research papers, many of which are senior authored manuscripts in Science, Nature, Cell, and other prominent journals. Her seminal contributions include developing the first molecular clone of HIV-1, discovering the origins of HIV-1 and HIV-2 in nonhuman primate species in Africa, determining the pathogenic impact of SIV infection on wild chimpanzee populations, and making fundamental observations in the molecular and virologic characterization of numerous HIV and SIV genes and isolates.

Glenda Gray, M.B.B.C.H., F.C.Paeds., is executive director of the Perinatal HIV Research Unit and associate professor of paediatrics, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, and director of HIV Vaccine Trials Network Africa Programs. She is based at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, in Soweto, South Africa. She has expertise in the field of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, adolescent HIV prevention and treatment, and HIV vaccine and microbicide research. She received the Femina “Woman of the Nineties” Award for her contribution to perinatal HIV research. In 2002, she was awarded the Nelson Mandela Health and Human Rights Award for pioneering work done in the field of mother-to-child transmission of HIV-1. She is a member of the Academy of Science in South Africa and has served on a number of expert panels for the academy in the field of infant health, nutrition, and HIV.

David Baltimore, Ph.D., is the Robert Andrews Millikan Professor of Biology at the California Institute of Technology. He is one of the world's leading biologists and a co-recipient of the 1975 Nobel Prize in Medicine for the discovery of reverse transcriptase. Since then, he has published more than 600 papers, including seminal research on the genetics of cancer, the workings of the HIV virus and AIDS vaccine candidates, and fundamental observations in molecular immunology. He was founding director of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and president of Rockefeller University and Caltech. Today he heads the Baltimore Lab at Caltech, with support from the Gates Foundation, to look for ways to genetically boost the immune system against infectious pathogens, particularly HIV. Throughout his career, Baltimore has influenced science policy. He helped set standards for recombinant DNA technology and received the 1999 National Medal of Science in part for his work on AIDS research policy.

Last Updated March 17, 2011

Last Reviewed March 17, 2011