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The Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center

Almost 20 years have passed since AIDS began to emerge as a recognizable disease. More than a decade ago the causative agent of AIDS was identified as the human immunodeficiency virus, HIV. Yet the ultimate control and eradication of the AIDS epidemic still depends on efforts to increase our understanding of the structure and function of HIV and to define the mechanism by which it destroys the immune system.

The concept for the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center originated in 1988 when The Aaron Diamond Foundation was asked to bring a group of benefactors together to discuss the development of a high level research effort concentrated on the basic science of HIV/AIDS. It was felt that such an effort was necessary to bring the city closer to its level of responsibility as the epicenter of the AIDS epidemic in the United States.

Realizing the urgency of the situation, Irene Diamond, president of the Foundation, decided to establish the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center as a joint venture with the Department of Health of the City of New York, later joined by the Public Health Research Institute and New York University School of Medicine. In mid-1989, Dr. David D. Ho, an internationally recognized microbiologist from the University of California, Los Angeles, was named Center Director. Dr. Ho was named Time Magazine’s 1996 "Man of the Year."

Quickly reaching its full complement of scientist, the Diamond Center outgrew its space and, in the fall of 1996, expanded to an additional floor. In July 1996, Dr. Ho was appointed to a professorship at The Rockefeller University, now the site of the Center’s main academic affiliation. The Rockefeller University provides important administrative and infrastructure support for the Center’s clinical studies at the university’s hospital.

ADARC has played an important role in breakthroughs that have helped redefine our understanding of HIV and changed the course of clinical care for AIDS patients. A few of the ADARC studies that have altered the AIDS landscape are:

"The Diamond Center focuses on basic research efforts to increase under-standing of the structure and function of HIV and to define the mechanism by which it destroys the immune system. Considerable effort is being devoted to developing and testing treatment strategies that have emerged from our new understanding of viral dynamics and to developing a viable vaccine. We are more than just a laboratory. We are a group of people working together as a dedicated team with a plan and a distinct mission to bring renewed spirit and hope to all who are living at the epicenter of a devastating pandemic."

-Dr. David Ho, Director of Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center.

The complexity of HIV and AIDS suggests that the conquest of this epidemic will require close interactions of scientists with complementary skills and talents. Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center has adopted a multi-disciplinary approach – combining virology, immunology, molecular biology, and clinical medicine – to pursue a number of projects in AIDS research. Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center is the world’s largest private research laboratory devoted solely to AIDS research. The Center occupies two floors in the New York City’s Bureau of Laboratories Building. The total of 44,000 square feet of laboratory space provides an efficient and comfortable environment for research with an anticipated complement of 120 scientists. There are nine laboratories for routine research, and equipment rooms, all available for general use by the center’s scientists. The Center is fully equipped with an extensive array of the latest state-of-the-art scientific equipment.

To Learn More About The Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, visit their homepage at



The Emory Vaccine Center

The Emory Vaccine Center is a university-wide initiative to coordinate and enhance both basic and clinical research on the AIDS vaccine. It was created to bring together under one roof some of the nation’s best immunologists and virologists to forge new discoveries for vaccine development. Under the direction of Dr. Rafi Ahmed, an internationally know scientist in viral pathogenesis and immunity and one of the world’s leading experts on T-cell memory, the Emory Vaccine Center has put in place a comprehensive vaccine program that includes basic research, vaccine design, preclinical testing and clinical trials in humans.

The Center has just moved into a new 75,000 square foot building that will house 150 scientists doing research on developing an AIDS vaccine. In addition, plans are underway to construct a vaccine manufacturing facility to bring promising vaccine candidates that emerge from basic research into clinical evaluation trials in humans. These studies will be done in collaboration with Emory’s Ponce de Leon Center, which is one of the largest outpatient facilities in the country for comprehensive treatment and support of HIV-infected individuals.

"Our research interest are in the areas of viral persistence and virus-induced immunosuppression, and we have become recognized as the world’s leading experts on T lymphocyte memory resulting from viral infection or vaccination. The abi8lity of the immune system to make an enhanced response upon second exposure to a pathogen is the basis of vaccination against infectious diseases. At the Vaccine Center, Dr. Ahmed’s research efforts will be directed towards understanding the mechanisms of immunological memory and using this knowledge to develop new and more effective vaccines against emerging diseases. Our laboratory is interested in the basic mechanisms of immunological memory."

-The Emory Vaccine Center.

Recent work at the Emory Vaccine Center has identified a novel vaccine strategy that protects non-human primates against AIDS. They have also developed highly sensitive immunological assays to measure HIV specific T-cell responses in humans. The next step is to test the efficacy of the novel AIDS vaccines in humans. Overall, the Center’s goal is to develop a prophylactic vaccine to prevent AIDS and also to develop therapeutic vaccines to treat the many individuals already infected with HIV.

To Learn More About The Emory Vaccine Center, visit their homepage at


The UCLA AIDS Institute

In 1981, UCLA physicians identified the first cases of "new acquired immunodeficiency" in four previously healthy gay men. These doctors’ discovery – and the subsequent skyrocketing of AIDS cases in Los Angeles and worldwide – led to the formation of the UCLA AIDS Institute in 1992.

The UCLA AIDS Institute coordinates more than 150 AIDS research projects taking place at UCLA and its seven affiliated teaching hospitals in communities throughout Los Angeles County.

Emphasizing an integrated team approach, the Institute promotes faculty collaboration among the UCLA Schools of Medicine, Public Health, Dentistry, Nursing, Public Policy and the College of Letters and Science. UCLA investigators are dedicated to translating basic science, behavioral and clinical research into lifesaving therapies that will prevent and ultimately eradicate the threat of AIDS.

This comprehensive approach has produced numerous groundbreaking advances in the fight against AIDS. Under the direction of Dr. Irvin Chen, a molecular virologist world-renowned for his research in AIDS, cancer and gene therapy, the UCLA AIDS Institute has:

U.S. News & World Report’s most recent survey ranked UCLA fourth in the nation for AIDS research, named UCLA Medical Center as the #1 hospital in the western United States for the 10th consecutive year and placed UCLA School of Medicine in the nation’s top 10.

"Our medical researchers at UCLA have devoted their careers to unraveling the biology of HIV in order to combat the worldwide destruction of millions of lives. Years of successful biological studies have equipped us with the necessary information to move forward in producing a safe and effective AIDS vaccine. But pursuing the HIV vaccine will require private support as well as enterprising research. That’s why the funds raised by the AIDS Vaccine Rides will allow UCLA researchers and their international collaborators to react immediately to promising clues unearthed during our investigations."

-Dr. Irvin Chen, UCLA AIDS Institute.

To Learn More About The UCLA AIDS Institute, visit their homepage at


**This page was copied from the 2001 AIDS Vaccine Rides: Ride Guide.  All copyrights belong to Pallotta TeamWorks.  1/14/2001**