HIV Prevention Researcher Wins National Award

For his groundbreaking research on treatment as prevention of HIV, Myron Cohen — professor of medicine, microbiology and epidemiology at UNC — has received the top honor of the inaugural Clinical Research Forum Top 10 Clinical Research Achievement Awards.

The winning projects are seen as compelling examples of the scientific innovation that can result from the nation’s investment in clinical research in an effort to benefit human health and welfare.

Cohen’s study on HIV prevention, called HPTN 052, showed that treating people with HIV with antiretroviral therapy renders them virtually noncontagious, reducing sexual transmission by 96 percent. The study findings, which were published in the Aug. 11, 2011, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, were first made public in May 2011, four years before the study’s scheduled completion, because they were so overwhelmingly positive.

“Objectively, very few clinical trials have had the impact of HPTN 052,” said Marschall S. Runge, chair of the department of medicine and executive dean at the UNC School of Medicine. “The study is a remarkable example of clinical research from ‘bench to bedside’ that informs public health policy.”

Cohen’s research was honored with the Herbert Pardes Clinical Research Excellence Award, named for the former president and CEO of New York-Presbyterian Hospital, a physician who is regarded as a champion and visionary in clinical research.

“The tripartite mission of excellence in research, medical education and patient care unites all scientists in academic medical settings in their pursuit of clinical research that will expand the boundaries of medicine, increase the ability to diagnose, treat and prevent disease, and offer patients and their families hope for the future,” Pardes said. “I am delighted to be able to advance this vitally important mission and support clinical researchers as they pursue game-changing medical breakthroughs.”

“Clinical research is key to our efforts to turn discoveries into health, serving as the bridge between advances in basic scientific understanding and the development of new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent disease,” said National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins ’77 (MD). “NIH is a major supporter of clinical research, and I am delighted to see this important field get the recognition it so richly deserves.”

HPTN 052 was funded largely by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, with additional funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute of Mental Health, all part of the NIH.

Cohen and the other winners were honored on April 18 during the Clinical Research Forum annual meeting and awards dinner in Washington, D.C.

The Clinical Research Forum is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing national leadership in clinical research. Its mission is to generate support for clinical research and promote understanding of its impact on health and health care delivery. Members are among the nation’s most prestigious academic medical centers and health systems.

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