HIV/AIDS Investigators Few and Far Between

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Science  09 Jul 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5988, pp. 173
DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5988.173

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When it comes to HIV/AIDS research, insiders and outsiders agree that this country, nicknamed the bear, has not lived up to its big and strong moniker. In addition to language barriers and other difficulties in accessing information, the country is still reeling from a brain drain that happened when the Soviet Union fell. But there are islands of talented investigators. One of them is the Biomedical Center, a privately run and modest institution in St. Petersburg. The center conducts studies on epidemiology, behavior, molecular characterizations of the virus, and basic vaccine questions. The two dozen investigators have helped clarify the rate of spread of HIV among injecting drug users and documented the transmission from IDUs into the broader population through heterosexual sex. It is the only Russian institution to have joined the U.S. National Institutes of Health's HIV Prevention Trials Network, establishing an IDU cohort for future studies. And several center investigators have trained at Yale University and other top U.S. institutions.