The National Institutes of Health has named the University of Rochester a Center for AIDS Research (CFAR). The UR is one of only 18 places in the country with that designation.
Dr. Stephen Dewhurst is one of the country's leading HIV/AIDS researchers, and he's doing that cutting-edge work at the University of Rochester.
He said the National Institutes of Health Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) designation will not only bring in $7.5 million to keep that work going, but will open the door for even more funding.
"What it means is that we have a certain amount of HIV research going on here and that we're recognized as one of the best places in the nation for doing HIV/AIDS research," said Dr. Dewhurst. "And that we've really articulated a vision of what we want to do going forward that the NIH found to be exciting."
In these labs, researchers are working to better understand HIV's genetic material. Another team is studying those who have been living for years with HIV. More than 45 percent of those being treated at URMC's AIDS Center are 50 or older.
"Now people can take a cocktail of drugs and expect to live a full life. What we don't know is what is the affect of HIV as people get older because that didn't happen in the past."
Dr. Dewhurst said while the cocktail treats the disease, there is still no cure. That's why doctors are not only working on that, but also on a vaccine.
There are some 500-800 people across the university's many labs who are part of this research. Some of them are graduate students who Dewhurst said are the future of research bringing with them new energy and new ideas.
Grad student Sarah Amie was hooked right from the start.
"One of the first labs I rotated in was an HIV lab and I immediately was interested not only with the impact it has on public health but just the virus itself and how it can evolve," said Amie. "I thought it was really important and interesting to work on."
Dr. Dewhurst says a lot of what they have discovered in the university's HIV research, is applicable to other areas in science. That's why they're also working together with those disciplines hoping that will lead to new breakthroughs.
He believes with all these efforts, we will one day see a cure.
"My own personal wish would be a vaccine. Ten years from now, and I would love to see a vaccine and I would love to see a cure."