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Oregon Luncheon Spotlights Class of 62 Scholars, AIDS Vaccine Research

Posted on Friday, November 6, 2015

The 62 scholars of the ARCS Oregon Chapter shared the spotlight on November 2nd at the “Recognizing Genius” Scholar Awards Luncheon. The 465 attendees were wowed by the PhD scholars, and also by endowment announcements and hopeful research for a possible HIV vaccine.

ARCS President Joan Foley told the audience about the wide range of science topics being researched by the PhD scholars at Oregon Health & Science University, Oregon State University and the University of Oregon. A dozen scholars presented their research at a Poster Session prior to the luncheon, held at the Portland Art Museum. Guests included business and community leaders, university faculty, members, scholars and donors.

Keynote speaker Dr. Louis Picker explained how his team at OHSU has successfully created a vaccine to eradicate Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV), the primate equivalent of HIV in humans.  The vaccine approach invented at OHSU uses the herpes family virus, Cytomegalovirus (CMV), as a vaccine vector. Based on work with rhesus monkeys, the OHSU researchers found that the CMV/SIV vector protected monkeys showed no signs of being affected, even 1 to 3 years after exposure.  Dr. Picker has a $25 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to continue work on a human vaccine to prevent and possibly cure HIV. 

ARCS President Foley announced three new scholar award endowments, all based on a matching model with a donor, the chapter, and one of the chapter’s university partners.

Scholar alum David Mildrexler explained his research identifying forest vulnerabilities to drought and high temperatures in the Pacific Northwest. 

Watch this video about Dr. Picker's research.

Photo courtesy of Andie Petkus Photography