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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
UTAH: Utah Scientist Gets Grant for HIV Research
Lois M. Collins
September 10, 2007
Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City) (08.31.07) - Monday,

The National Institutes of Health has awarded a University of Utah scientist a five-year, $19.2 million grant to establish a research center to analyze how HIV hijacks host cell features in order to replicate. The Utah center's NIH grant is one of three from the institutes; the others went to the University of California-San Francisco and the University of Pittsburgh.

Biochemist Wesley I. Sundquist is the lead investigator of the Utah center, which will include five University of Utah colleagues and six researchers from four other institutions: the California Institute of Technology, the Scripps Research Institute, Northwest University, and the University of Virginia.

In Utah, Sundquist's Structural Biology Center for HIV/Host Interactions in Trafficking and Assembly will receive $3.8 million in its first year. Center researchers will focus on, among other issues, how HIV uses cellular pathways to transit in and out of the cell and replicate.

Collaborating scientists will have "a fair amount of latitude in their research. Our type of work is not top-down," Sundquist said. Twice a year, the 12 senior researchers will meet to discuss their progress, their research agendas and how their work could interact. Data will also be shared via other meetings and Web-based presentations.

"HIV is extremely adept at evolving resistance against therapeutics that target individual HIV proteins," said Ravi Basavappa, an NIH program director. "The research proposed by Dr. Sundquist and his colleagues to understand in detail how the virus interacts with components of the cell could provide a framework for developing entirely new classes of therapeutics."

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