New AIDS lab opens here - Researchers in Brooklyn could one day find vaccine

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The long-languishing Brooklyn waterfront took one giant step toward a 21st century rebirth with the recent opening of a new lab dedicated to the development of a vaccine for AIDS.

The ribbon on the state-of-the-art, 36,000-square-foot AIDS Vaccine Design and Development Laboratory in the Brooklyn Army Terminal, at 140 58th Street, was cut on Wednesday, November 12th by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a host of dignitaries from the realms of government, education and industry.

“New York City — already home to many of the world’s finest healthcare and research institutions — is getting a major boost as a global center of science and innovation with the opening of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative’s state-of-the-art Design Lab,” Bloomberg remarked as he helped open the center.

“We have taken a wide range of steps to promote new industries and diversify our economy, and the New York City Bioscience Initiative and our efforts to grow that sector is among the most important,” he added.

“Even more imperative is the work that will go on inside the new facility, as dedicated researchers and scientists advance efforts to develop an AIDS vaccine and help rid the world of the HIV epidemic,” Bloomberg stressed.

Dr. Seth Berkley, the president and chief executive officer of AIVI, concurred. “With 7,500 people around the globe becoming newly infected with HIV every day, it’s clear that current prevention and treatment efforts, while critical, are not going to end the AIDS pandemic,” he stressed.

“We need a vaccine to bring an end to AIDS,” Berkley went on, adding, “I am hopeful that scientists at IAVI’s Design Lab, working together with partners around the world, will develop a new generation of AIDS vaccine candidates that will bring us closer to our goal of a world without AIDS.”

Specifically, the purpose of the center is to provide a bridge between academic research and real world trials conducted by drug companies.

“Collaborat­ion is essential to driving scientific innovation,” noted Dr. Tachi Yamada, the president of the Global Health Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, an early IAVI backer. “Collaborat­ive efforts like the Design Lab promise to accelerate progress toward an HIV vaccine, our best long-term hope for controlling the global AIDS epidemic.”

The identified goals of the lab are to: “Create immunogens that will prompt the immune system to produce antibodies that neutralize the diverse types of HIV circulating worldwide today; design and prioritize viral vector-based AIDS vaccine candidates more effective than those in the current pipeline; (and) uncover vital clues about how to design a human AIDS vaccine by studying a model found to be effective in non-human primates,” according to a brochure on IAVI’s website.

The lab is the first to open in what is hoped will become a 486,000-square-foot biotech incubator, a colony of high-tech companies working on the ever-advancing cutting edge of science, and creating hundreds of jobs for New Yorkers.

The city invested $12 million in the lab’s construction; New York State has allocated $48 million to developing the biotech center at the Brooklyn Army Terminal.

The AIDS Vaccine Design and Development Laboratory, which is affiliated with SUNY Downstate, will itself provide 60 jobs when it is completely up and running.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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