Who We Are
The Nixon Laboratory is a member of the Research Center for the Cure and Eradication of HIV within the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Tropical Medicine (MITM) at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C.
Our main interest is the characterization of the human immune response to infection with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus 1 (HIV-1), the causative agent of the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), and to develop new avenues of HIV eradication strategies through basic science.
Today, several decades after its first appearance, many people do not perceive HIV as a threat to their life any more, although the HIV/AIDS epidemic is as severe now as it has ever been. As of last year, 37 million people worldwide are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, 2.6 million of these are children. Overall, 1.2 million people died as a result of their HIV infection and more than 2 million new infections were documented (the dark figure being much higher).
The prevalence of HIV infection in the US capital Washington D.C. is 3%, a level comparable with many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the area with the highest HIV prevalence in the world. A rate of 1% or more is classified as an epidemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
With new viral mutants emerging every day, the research to find a cure has become more and more difficult over time. The development of better antiretroviral therapy in recent years has prolonged the lives of those HIV patients that can access, afford and tolerate these drugs, but a significant gap in life expectancy remains between healthy individuals and HIV-infected individuals on therapy. The majority of HIV patients worldwide, however, does not have regular access to appropriate treatment for the disease. Therefore there is now more than ever a need for the development of an effective HIV vaccine and ultimately a cure.
Our laboratory takes an active part in HIV cure research (please visit our Research section), using several different approaches and making use of a wide variety of techniques. In order to achieve our goals, we are part of a large collaboration network with other basic and translational HIV cure research laboratories in several different countries, including labs in the USA, Canada, Mexico and Brazil (please visit our Collaborations section).