Already a world player in HIV/AIDS research, Western University is upping its game with the recruitment of one of the top minds in the field.
Eric Arts, a Western alumnus, has already transferred from prestigious Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, to become the new chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry.
Arts and his research team at Case Western, along with the Uganda Core Lab at the Center for AIDS Research, have provided the international medical community with a better understanding of how different strains of HIV mutate in different parts of the world.
Many from his Case Western team will be joining him at Western.
“For HIV, we have a nice team forming with people that I’m bringing along and with outside recruitments and existing people that are here who are quite strong in the area,” Arts said.
Arts said he’s known Western researcher Dr. Chil-Yong Kang for years. Yong-Kang has developed a vaccine for HIV that has already cleared many hurdles, including initial tests on humans. His work has excited researchers around the world.
“I’ve followed what he’s been doing on HIV vaccines,” Arts said. “We also have a vaccine program that we’re going to try to combine with Yong-Kang’s approach and see if we can get some synergy there.”
What that means, he said cautiously, is a possible cure for AIDS somewhere in the not-too-distant future.
Schulich Dean Michael Strong said he’s thrilled with the recruitment.
“Eric is internationally renowned in the AIDS/HIV area and the development of new therapies and he has a huge imprint in Africa, which is important to a university point of view,” he said.
Having both Arts and Kang ramps the school up to another level, he added.
“I hate to use the word transformative because everyone uses it, but this is one of those kinds of recruitments.”