Grace Aldrovandi, MD, CM, principal investigator at The Saban Research Institute of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, has been awarded $17 million by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health. The goal of this grant is to provide scientific leadership and infrastructure for laboratory testing as part of the International Maternal Pediatric Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trials Network, according to a news release.
HIV infection is a global public health issue, with children, adolescents and women being particularly vulnerable, Aldrovandi said in the release. She also is professor of Pediatrics, Pathology and Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California.
The specialized laboratories of the IMPAACT Network have been crucial in establishing the standards of care for HIV-infected pregnant women, children and adolescents. The IMPAACT Network Laboratory Center, led by Aldrovandi, will continue to support clinical trials aimed at curing HIV; optimizing antiretroviral therapies; decreasing incident HIV and HIV-associated infections; evaluating treatments for tuberculosis (including multidrug resistant tuberculosis); improving TB diagnostics in children; and decreasing mortality and morbidity, and enhancing the diagnosis, prevention and management of HIV-related complications.
The laboratories have been at the forefront in the development of assays for infant diagnosis, viral load monitoring, drug resistance, antiretroviral pharmacology, host genetics and the measurement of immune responses. They also have developed new methodologies and novel approaches to work with the small volume of specimens available from infants, children and pregnant women. In spite of resource-limited international settings, all laboratory studies are performed using the highest quality standards for laboratory testing. Aldrovandi will provide oversight to more than 50 laboratories in the U.S., Asia, Africa and India.
Childhood stands out as the single best time to maximize our human potential, said Brent Polk, MD, director of The Saban Research Institute, in the release. Dr. Aldrovandis innovative work and worldwide collaborations to reduce the effects of HIV infection in pregnant women, infants, children and adolescents will improve the lives of families directly impacted by HIV and TB. And because their outcomes will be better, our global community will benefit greatly from their talents and contributions to our future.
A board-certified pediatric infectious disease specialist, Aldrovandi has chaired national and international studies on HIV pathogenesis within the IMPAACT Network and the Adolescent Trials Network. In addition to receiving the prestigious Elizabeth Glaser Scientist Award for her work on breast milk transmission of HIV-1, Aldrovandi has been a member or chair of multiple NIH study sections and has served as a scientific advisor to other national and international agencies.