SOURCE: amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

February 13, 2007 05:00 ET

amfAR Launches New Research Fellowship Program to Support Search for an AIDS Cure

The Mathilde Krim Fellows in Basic Biomedical Research Will Encourage Young Researchers While Honoring amfAR's Founding Chairman

NEW YORK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- February 13, 2007 --A new fellowship program to encourage and support young scientific researchers in the search for means to prevent and to cure HIV/AIDS, The Mathilde Krim Fellows in Basic Biomedical Research, was announced today by Kenneth Cole, chairman of the Board of amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research.

The new fellowship program, named in honor of amfAR's founding chairman and inaugurated with about $2 million in seed funding, comes at a time when there is a clear need for new, young investigators from a variety of scientific disciplines to join the field of HIV/AIDS research, Cole said.

"Since the very first days of the AIDS epidemic, Dr. Mathilde Krim has done incredible work as a leader in AIDS research," Cole said, "and she has never lost sight of the primary purpose, to help find a cure."

The Krim Fellowship complements the ongoing scientific research funded and supported by amfAR and will ensure that young researchers continue to enter the AIDS research world, Cole said. "They will know that there is a way for them to receive the support necessary to test new and innovative concepts, and novel approaches to HIV/AIDS research."

During the past 22 years, amfAR has sponsored research breakthroughs behind almost every significant medical advance in the treatment of HIV/AIDS, including early studies critical to the development of protease inhibitors, the powerful drugs that revolutionized the treatment of HIV/AIDS; pioneering research that led to the use of AZT to block mother-to-child transmission of HIV, resulting in its virtual elimination in the industrialized world; and studies that described the need for the CCR5 co-receptor to allow HIV to enter and infect human immune cells.

"Any field of endeavor needs a continuous infusion of new talent and fresh ideas, which is best provided by young researchers who bring enthusiasm, energy and new perspectives to a problem that is now 25 years old," said Dr. Rowena Johnston, amfAR's Vice President of Research. "We need a mechanism to ensure that young researchers enter into the HIV/AIDS field, and stay in it."

Dr. Johnston observed that recent data show it is taking longer for young scientists to secure tenure-track posts needed to lead an independent research team, and that they face increased difficulty in competing for grants with more established colleagues.

A recent study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that the percentage of funding going to the youngest age group of scientific researchers, those age 35 or younger, has declined steadily, from 23% in 1980 to below 4% in 2001. Meanwhile the share of grants going to scientists aged 46 and older has grown sharply.

"The loss of young researchers is worrying not only because it leaves an expertise gap in the future that will be hard to fill, but also because young scientists often have the most original ideas," Dr. Johnston said.

A list of initial donors to the Krim Fellowship program include David Bohnett, Zev Braun, Don Capoccia, Martin R. Chavez, Kenneth Cole, Jane Eisner, Tim Hanlon and Anthony Klatt, Michele McNeill, Edward Milstein, Casey and Edie Wasserman, Kevin Wendle and Bill Zabel. Robert Rauschenberg has donated a piece of original artwork.


amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, is one of the world's leading nonprofit organizations dedicated to the support of AIDS research, HIV prevention, treatment education, and the advocacy of sound AIDS-related public policy. Since its founding in 1985, amfAR has been associated with important HIV/AIDS research, has invested nearly $250 million in its programs and has awarded grants to more than 2,000 research teams worldwide.

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