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HIV Vaccine Research Center of Excellence to Open at AFRIMS
Thai and American dignitaries celebrated the completion of a new laboratory dedicated to HIV research at the Armed Forces Medical Research Institute of Medical Sciences (AFRIMS), a Special Foreign Activity of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research hosted by the Royal Thai Army (RTA).
The new laboratory will support clinical trial efforts within the AFRIMS Department of Retrovirology. The lab will handle sample processing and storage, immune monitoring and research activities. The opening of this state-of-the-art facility comes after a year-long effort to consolidate laboratory activities that were previously spread across Bangkok. The new lab is compliant with U.S. and Thai standards and the work environment—painted blue and yellow, which are significant colors in Thai culture—was created with input from Thai staff.
On 3 December, a ribbon-cutting ceremony and blessing by Buddhist monks officially marked the opening of the lab. Kristie Kenney, U.S. Ambassador to the Royal Kingdom of Thailand, along with the Commander in Chief of the RTA cut the ribbon. Other attendees included the Surgeon General of the RTA Medical Department; COL Geesey, AFRIMS Commander; COL Jerome Kim, Principal Deputy, U.S. Military HIV Research Program (MHRP); and John Lowe, President, Henry M. Jackson Foundation.
For more than 50 years, AFRIMS has been America's premier Asian site to study infectious diseases of military importance. AFRIMS helped MHRP execute the RV144 (Thai trial), which showed the first signed of efficacy for an HIV vaccine. A clinical follow-up study to RV144 began at AFRIMS in 2012, called RV305. This study will evaluate re-boosting in volunteers who participated in the RV144 study. Another clinical study, RV306, will begin in early 2012 using the RV144 vaccine regimen to compare additional vaccine boosts and gather more immunogenicity data in 460 new volunteers.
The HIV Vaccine Research Center of Excellence at AFRIMS is slated to become fully operational in early spring 2013.