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video: UMass Medical School Doctor Named to TIME’s Top 100

Saturday, May 04, 2013

 

Image courtesy of UMass Medical School

Doctor Katherine Luzuriaga, director of the Center for Clinical and Translational Science at UMass Medical School made TIME's list of the 100 most influential people in 2013.

Luzuriaga was named with two colleagues, Dr. Hannah Gay, UMMC associate professor of pediatrics and Dr. Deborah Persaud, virologist at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center for their work with HIV. Together, the trio is being commended for functionally treating a newborn with HIV-AIDS.

“We never thought this was possible,” she said in a video released by UMass Medical School adding that of the 70 million cumulative HIV infections, there have only been two well-documented cases of cure.

The baby treated by Luzuriaga and her colleagues contracted HIV in utero and was given aggressive treatment within 30 hours of birth. Treatment continued for 15 to 18 months. When the child was checked again at 23 months, it showed no signs of HIV infection and was still HIV-free at two and a half years.

“We were very pleased to report at the conference a case report – that means one child – that appears to have cleared most traces of HIV infection after very, very early treatment,” Luzuriaga said. “This as I said has created such a stir because it is unprecedented. Until this point, we believed that all children who were treated with HIV were sentenced to a lifetime of treatment.”

The doctor said that in most cases, they aren’t able to treat as quickly, and those children, she said will likely remain on treatment. But this result suggests that if treated quickly enough we could be able to “spare children a life of therapy,” she said.

Additional lab studies and clinical trials are ongoing, Luzuriaga said, saying that UMass Medial School has been a very involved entity in the findings.

“We’ve been able to make a major impact on pediatric HIV infection,” she said, adding that the strong research environment at the medial school has made it possible.

“We are honored and humbled that our work has been considered influential,” said Luzuriaga. “Our hope is that this will help to communicate the power and potential of scientific investigation for optimizing health outcomes for children. This work has benefitted from the strong scientific community here at UMass Medical School, as well as the work of numerous colleagues around the world. Together, we are committed to eradicating pediatric HIV infection and improving child health globally.”

Luzuriaga studied at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tufts University and is currently a professor in the school’s department of Pediatric Immunology & Infectious Diseases. She has been at the forefront of pediatric HIV/AIDS research for many years and has been recognized for her collaborative research on the transmission of HIV from pregnant women to their newborns during birth, a leading cause of the rapid spread of HIV in developing countries. She is also recognized for her work on early therapy of HIV-1 infected infants.

TIME 100 is in its tenth year and recognizes individuals for activism, innovation and achievement.

TIME Managing Editor Richard Stengel has said of the list in the past, “The TIME 100 is not a list of the most powerful people in the world, it’s not a list of the smartest people in the world, it’s a list of the most influential people in the world. They’re scientists, they’re thinkers, they’re philosophers, they’re leaders, they’re icons, they’re artists, they’re visionaries. People who are using their ideas, their visions, their actions to transform the world and have an effect on a multitude of people.”

 

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