May 2001

From Maryland/Israel Development Center

Dr. Robert C. Gallo to Collaborate with Visiting Israeli Scientist on Promising HIV Vaccine Research at Maryland’s Institute of Human Virology

Maryland/Israel Development Center unites leading research communities in Maryland and Israel

BALTIMORE, MD – June 1, 2001 – The Maryland/Israel Development Center, with the support of Maryland Governor Parris N. Glendening and Israeli Ambassador David Ivry, officially launched today a pioneering program that partners the biotech research communities in the State of Maryland and Israel. At a press briefing held at the Institute of Human Virology (IHV), Hanan Sibel, chairman of the Maryland/Israel Development Center detailed the new program – the Maryland/Israel Visiting Fellows Program in Biotechnology – which promotes the establishment of long-term research business and investment ties, expand society’s knowledge of human diseases such as AIDS and cancer, and encourages the commercialization of products developed as a result of the joint research, thus creating jobs in both Maryland and Israel.

The Maryland/Israel Development Center created the program to help unite Maryland’s mature biotech community with Israel’s burgeoning biotech sector for joint research and business activities. According to Sibel, the inaugural grant pairs Israeli scientist Dr. Jonathan Gershoni of Tel-Aviv University with world-renowned virologist Dr. Robert C. Gallo, director of the University of Maryland’s Institute of Human Virology, a center of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, and co-discoverer of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The grant was made official through a proclamation signing between the Governor, Israeli Ambassador Ivry, and the leaders from the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, the Institute of Human Virology and the Maryland/Israel Development Center during today’s ceremony. Dr. Gershoni and a post-doctoral student from Israel will collaborate with Dr. Gallo and researchers in the basic research division of the IHV, focusing on chemokine-based therapies, a recently discovered approach which have proven effective in preventing HIV from gaining entry into human cells. The research will expand upon the discovery that using an HIV coat protein could be valuable in creating a vaccine for HIV.

The partnership announcement comes on the 20th anniversary of the first identified HIV cases by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Today, the disease now known as AIDS has stricken roughly 60 million people worldwide. There are currently more than 21,000 people living with HIV in Maryland, ranking it ninth for HIV incidence in the United States.

"When we first discovered HIV 20 years ago, we never imagined the impact it would have throughout the world," said Dr. Gallo. "But since that discovery we have learned more about this virus than we have learned about any other disease. Yet we still have not been able to develop effective therapies that can be administered not just here in the United States, but throughout the third world, where HIV and AIDS is rampant. We believe a chemokine-based approach is among the most promising approaches being investigated today." Gallo continues, "Dr. Gershoni and I have both been looking at chemokine-based therapies and we are eager to get started."

Within the structure of the Visiting Fellows Program the visiting scientists will also act as Biotech Ambassadors representing the Israeli community to Maryland companies to promote more collaboration and joint ventures.

"The Maryland/Israel Visiting Fellows Program in Biotechnology will increase scientific and entrepreneurial opportunities between Maryland and Israel, speeding the rate of scientific discovery and making two premiere bio-capitals even stronger," said Maryland Governor Parris N. Glendening. "This alliance brings together the intellectual and technical resources that could fundamentally improve the lives and health of millions of people around the world."

The Visiting Fellows Program is supported by the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Dr. Solomon Snyder of Johns Hopkins University and the State of Maryland with Governor Glendening’s proactive support.

The Institute of Human Virology was established to create and develop a world-class center of excellence focusing on chronic viral diseases and virally linked cancers. The IHV is dedicated to discovery, research, treatment, and prevention of these diseases and cancers. Its unique structure seeks to connect cohesive, multidisciplinary research and clinical programs so that new treatments are streamlined from discovery to patient. The IHV serves patients locally and the scientific community globally. The Institute of Human Virology, a center of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, was formed in 1996 as a partnership between the State of Maryland, the City of Baltimore, the University of Maryland System, and the University of Maryland Medical System.

The Maryland/Israel Development Center (MIDC) is a non-profit organization that promotes trade and joint ventures between Maryland and Israeli businesses and research institutions. It is a partnership between the Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development, Israel's Ministry of Industry & Trade, THE ASSOCIATED: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore and the Jewish Agency for Israel. For more information, visit www.marylandisrael.org.












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