I am excited to introduce the inaugural installment of a new series, which we are calling “A Living History of AIDS Vaccine Research.” Its purpose is to provide perspective on historical moments in the quest for a vaccine, as well as insight into what lies ahead, as told by some of the leading researchers and policymakers in the field. We could not think of a better person to launch this series than Anthony Fauci, who has served as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) for the past 25 years.
Fauci has been immersed in the AIDS pandemic ever since the first cases were described 28 years ago. He was involved in the development of the first antiretrovirals to treat HIV infection and has played a pivotal role in AIDS vaccine research and development—from his early decision not to fund the first Phase III trial of an AIDS vaccine candidate to establishing the Vaccine Research Center at NIAID. He’s been one of the most vocal advocates and ardent supporters of the need for an AIDS vaccine and oversees a budget of US$460 million dedicated to AIDS vaccine research and development, 30% of NIAID’s overall HIV/AIDS budget. Whether Fauci is behind the podium at a conference or meeting with activists, he always eloquently captures both the current status of research and the human toll and devastation wrought by AIDS. He kicks off this series by explaining NIAID’s role in vaccine discovery.
At the recently held Keystone Symposia, which we devote substantial attention to in this issue, Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, a Nobel laureate for her role in the discovery of HIV, spoke of the importance of returning to basic science in AIDS vaccine research. As efforts shift in this direction, it is more important than ever to reflect on the past and gain insight into the path forward. We hope that the Living History series will do both.
—Kristen Jill Kresge, Managing Editor