A conference in Cape Town, South Africa this week marks the start of a “grand endeavor” in developing a vaccine to help end HIV, said Dr. Larry Corey, president and director of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center during a closing speech.
More than 200 people from at least a dozen countries attended the conference, held for the first time in South Africa to coincide with the opening of the Cape Town HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) Immunology Laboratory.
The South African Medical Research Council co-hosted the conference. The network is partnering with the South African government as it moves forward on its efforts to expand HIV vaccine research in the region.
Fred Hutch built the state-of-the-art lab, largely funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to conduct two large-scale HIV vaccine clinical trials expected to start in 2016. The lab will also provide training to young South African scientists.
“We are at a major crossroads,” said Corey at the closing of the conference Friday. “We are undertaking what I think is a massive grand endeavor, a grand experiment.”