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Center of Excellence in Inflammation, Infectious Disease & Immunity

Quillen College of Medicine

Center of Excellence in Inflammation, Infectious Disease and Immunity


Dr. Karl Goodkin, MD, PhD, has been re-elected to serve on the AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG): Neurology Collaborative Science Group (Neuro CSG). 


Goodkin     Initially established in 1987, the ACTG is described on its website as working “to broaden the scope of the AIDS research effort of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The ACTG established and supports the largest network of expert clinical and translational investigators and therapeutic clinical trials units in the world, including sites in resource-limited countries. These investigators and units serve as the major resource for HIV/AIDS research, treatment, care, and training/education in their communities.”  The mission of the ACTG is to cure HIV infection and reduce the burden of disease due to HIV infection and its complications, including tuberculosis and viral hepatitis.  The ACTG is funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, through the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

     The Neurology Collaborative Science Group prioritizes investigations focusing on HIV-associated cognitive impairment, eradication of the central nervous system as a reservoir of HIV infection, HIV-associated CNS opportunistic infections, neurologic toxicities of antiretroviral and other drugs, and distal sensory peripheral neuropathy.

     Dr. Goodkin’s current two-year term marks the fourth time he has been elected to serve on the Neurology Collaborative Science Group. He serves as Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.  Please join us in congratulating Dr. Karl Goodkin on his continuing leadership role in the AIDS Clinical Trials Group.


R15 awarded to Dr. Jonathan Moorman (PI) and Dr. Zhi Qiang Yao (Co-PI) to study vaccine failure in HIV- infected population

 Dr. MoormanDr. John Yao

      Jonathan Moorman, MD, PhD, (above left) and Zhi Qiang (John) Yao, MD, PhD, (above right) will lead research on an R15-awarded project from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.  The award, “Vaccine failure in HIV infection mediated by myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSCs),” is in the amount of $434,108.

     Drs. Moorman and Yao have noted decreased vaccine efficacy in immunocompromised individuals in prior research.  This poor response to vaccines was observed even in patients who adhere to antiretroviral treatment and have undetectable levels of HIV, leading these researchers to demonstrate in these conditions that suppressive MDSCs expand, promote regulatory T cell development, and inhibit effector T cell functions in this population, essentially reducing the immune response.  The overall goal of this research is to elucidate the mechanisms by which HIV infection induces myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) and their role in Hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccine failure in HIV-infected individuals, with an aim to develop effective approaches to improve vaccine efficacy in immunocompromised individuals.  In addition, this research could have a number of applications as poor vaccine response is also observed for influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations in HIV+ persons and other immunocompromised hosts, including the elderly. This translational study is important in that it will provide a working model to explore mechanisms that could be fundamental in the diminishing immune (vaccine) responses observed in HIV infection and other chronic infectious diseases. Understanding such mechanisms is critical for developing approaches to improve vaccine efficacy in individuals with HIV and also has relevance that could extend to other immunocompromising conditions, such as Hepatitis C Virus, hemodialysis, immunosuppression, transplantation, and malignancy in general.  In addition to research, a hallmark of the R15 program is its emphasis on education of undergraduate and graduate students and their exposure to advanced research techniques.  The R15 program allows for a unique blend of facilitating novel research while promoting student education. 

      Dr. Moorman is a professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, where he also serves as Vice Chair of Research and Scholarship.  He is  Co-Director of the Center of Excellence in Inflammation, Infectious Disease, and Immunity.  Dr. Yao is also a professor in the Department of Internal Medicine and serves as the Director of the Center of Excellence for HIV/AIDS.  In addition, both physician scientists provide infectious disease care at the Mountain Home VA.  This is their sixth concurrent, active grant.


     Please join us in congratulating Dr. Jonathan Moorman and Dr. Zhi Qiang Yao on their Academic Research Enhancement Award.



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