Larry Arthur (right) recruited HIV/AIDS expert Jeff Lifson to his AIDS Vaccine Program at the Frederick National Laboratory in 1995.

FREDERICK, Md. -- As a deadly mystery disease with an unknown etiology caused worldwide panic in the early 1980s and quickly became an epidemic, Dr. Jeffrey Lifson was right in the middle of it. 

He was a recent medical school graduate and cellular immunology fellow at Stanford Medical School where he saw early cases of what would become known as AIDS.

Jeff Lifson (left) has been director of the AIDS and Cancer Virus program for nearly 20 years. He’s pictured here with colleagues Brandon Keele, Jake Estes and the late Michael Piatak.

A Race Against the Unfolding Epidemic

Published: 3/19/2019Tagged:

FREDERICK, Md. -- In the immunology lab at Stanford Hospital there was a sense of urgency to discover the culprit of the strange disease that caused rare cancers and infections, initially diagnosed among gay men. It was 1983, and the first signs of what would become the AIDS threat were outlined in a series of reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and publications in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1981.

Image: VCMP staff receive the award from Vaccine Research Center leaders during the retreat. From left: John Mascola (VRC), Barney Graham (VRC), Frank Arnold (VRC), Richard Koup (VRC), Barbara Brooks (VCMP), Scott Emerick (VCMP), Matt Westerman (VCMP), Adriel Ramkissoon (VCMP), Christopher Case (VCMP), and Judy Stein (VRC).

FREDERICK, Md. -- It has been used in clinical studies on four continents and has been tested in thousands of volunteers. It was produced at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research over a five-year span to meet increasing clinical demand, and it may play an ongoing role in the future of HIV research. 

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