In an interview with the Guardian at the University of Miami Miller school of Medicine, Prof Watkins, who is also the vice chair of research at a prominent university in Miami Florida, said that with the new five year grant, he and his team would investigate ways to make an effective vaccine against HIV using the already acquired, yellow fever vaccine.
Proffesor David Watkins is a researcher in the department of Pathology, University of Miami Miller school of Medicine and he has uncovered how some rare HIV-Infected humans control replication of HIV, a finding which could lead to the creation of novel vaccine strategies.
Following his good work, he has been awarded 9.9 million US-Dollars grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases to develop a viable HIV vaccine.
With approximately 30% people living with HIV/Aids, an effective vaccine against the virus is among the world’s top public health priorities, and Watkins already has played a key role.
“We will be exploring the idea that we can insert fragments of the AIDS virus into the yellow fever vaccine and use this to induce immune responses against AIDS virus…” he expalined.
He said the work cuts across national boundaries and includes a long standing collaboration with a group from the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, home to leading experts and producers of the majority of the world’s supply of the yellow fever vaccine.
The professor also collaborates with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative in New York and the Scripps Institute in California.
Professor Watkins joined the Miller School faculty only this year and immediately became a key member in its acclaimed HIV/AIDS research program, which was recently recognised by the National Institute of Health as Florida’s first and only Centre For AIDS Research (CFAR), a prestigious designation awarded to only 21 of the nation’s most prolific and promising AIDS research institutions in the entire US.