Eric Hunter, Ph.D., one of the world's leading experts on retroviruses, the class of viruses that includes HIV, will join the faculty of Emory University this fall as the newest Eminent Scholar of the Georgia Research Alliance. In his new appointment as a Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Emory's School of Medicine, Dr. Hunter will join efforts to develop effective vaccines against HIV and AIDS while expanding his own research on how the AIDS virus reproduces itself and is transmitted from person to person.
Dr. Hunter is the 49th scientist attracted to Georgia research universities under the Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholars Program, a national model for attracting world-class scientific talent to Georgia. A faculty member for nearly three decades at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), Dr. Hunter conducted groundbreaking research on the role of retroviruses in disease, and is credited with helping establish UAB as one of the top AIDS research centers in the United States. For the past 16 years, Dr. Hunter has served as founding director of the UAB Center for AIDS Research (CFAR), one of seven original CFARs established by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to stimulate research and scientific advancement toward discovering cures for HIV and AIDS.
Also moving to Emory from UAB is Dr. Hunter's wife and collaborator, Susan Allen, M.D., M.P.H., who is internationally recognized for her research efforts regarding HIV prevention and spread in the African nations of Rwanda and Zambia. Dr. Allen will join Emory's Rollins School of Public Health as a Professor of International Health, with a joint appointment in Emory School of Medicine. Recent research by Drs. Hunter and Allen, together with colleagues in Africa and the United States, has identified factors that allow HIV to spread between heterosexual partners, the most common route of HIV transmission worldwide.
"This recruitment highlights the emergence of Emory and the State of Georgia as leaders in the fight against AIDS and other infectious diseases," said Tristram Parslow, M.D., Ph.D., chair of Emory's pathology department. "Drs. Hunter and Allen bring remarkable new energy, resources and ideas that will not only benefit Georgia, but enable us to extend our efforts to help people around the world, particularly in Africa. The participation of the Georgia Research Alliance in the recruitment was invaluable."
According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, 40 million people are estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS. An estimated 5 million people acquired the human immunodeficiency virus in 2003, and during that year AIDS caused the deaths of an estimated 3 million people.
Dr. Hunter will serve as a member of the Emory Center for AIDS Research and of the Emory Vaccine Center. One of the largest and fastest-growing of the 19 federally funded CFARs, the Emory CFAR includes more than 120 faculty researchers who together attracted over $44 million in AIDS research funding to Emory last year. The Emory Vaccine Center is a world-renowned group of academic scientists focused on developing new and more effective vaccines for a wide range of challenging diseases, including a promising HIV/AIDS vaccine.
"The recruitment of Drs. Hunter and Allen is timely for Emory, as HIV has become the fourth leading cause of death in the world, and the virus continues to spread rapidly throughout the globe," said James Curran, M.D., M.P.H, director of the Emory Center for AIDS Research and dean of the Rollins School of Public Health.
"Drs. Hunter and Allen are outstanding scientists and two of the most well known AIDS researchers in the world," added Thomas J. Lawley, M.D., dean, Emory University School of Medicine. "They are important additions to Emory and the State of Georgia."