Grand visit - Grant accepted

On July 22nd, CRC 1279 welcomed Dr. Beatrice Hahn, a Professor of Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia and a leading AIDS researcher worldwide. Amongst others, she discovered that HIV-1, the main causative agent of AIDS, originated from simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIVs) infecting chimpanzees and gorillas. In her seminar, she showed that many wild chimpanzees are protected against SIV because they encode variants of the CD4 receptor that do not allow viral entry into the cell. This finding helps to explain why humans are more susceptible to immunodeficiency viruses than chimpanzees. Dr. Hahn also described unusual variants of the SIVcpz Envelope glycoprotein that induce broadly neutralizing antibodies because they contain “holes” in their glycan shields.  She was confident that ongoing studies using SIVcpz Envelope proteins as immunogens will ultimately enable the design of effective HIV vaccines completing the cycle from HIV acquisition to prevention.

Dr. Hahn`s talk for the CRC seminar series was very well attended, although it had to be rescheduled to the morning since she picked Ulms special holiday the ‘Schwörmontag’ for her visit. In the afternoon, she joined Prof. Kirchhoff in his kayak for the ‘Nabada’, an annual tradition where thousands of Ulmer citizens and visitors grab rubber boats and many other creative vehicles to paddle down the river Danube. Dr. Hahn acknowledged that it was a unique and highly exciting experience to join the splashing and partying crowd on this sunny day.

It was certainly not the last time, since later that week Drs. Hahn and Kirchhoff heard that their application within the ‘Internationale Spitzenforschung’ program of the ‘Baden-Württemberg Stiftung’ was selected for funding. This grant will not only provide about half a million euro to discover novel factors restricting HIV transmission but also travel funds for future visits - preferably at Nabada days.