Heads of Laboratories
David D. Ho, M.D.
Irene Diamond Professor
Scientific Director; Chief Executive Officer
Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center
Dr. Ho’s laboratory had long focused on the pathogenesis of HIV infection, with particular emphasis on the dynamics of HIV replication in vivo. Currently, his group is pursuing the development of vaccines for HIV as well as other innovative prevention strategies. Dr. Ho is also heading the China AIDS Initiative to address the HIV/AIDS crisis in China.
Dr. Ho has been actively engaged in AIDS research for 33 years and has published more than 400 papers on the subject. Work in Dr. Ho’s lab helped pioneer the field of quantitation of HIV in infected people. In the last decade, his research team extended this work and revolutionized the paradigm for AIDS pathogenesis by demonstrating the highly dynamic nature of HIV replication in vivo. Their elegant studies on HIV dynamics formed the foundation for combination antiretroviral therapy, which Dr. Ho also helped to champion. Such a treatment approach has transformed a death sentence to a manageable disease and is now being applied widely throughout the developing world.
A major focus of the Ho lab today is the design and testing of candidate vaccines to induce immune responses that could block HIV transmission. Dr. Ho is currently pursuing multiple vaccine strategies. His lab members are also manipulating the viral envelope glycoprotein to determine whether neutralizing antibodies could be induced.
Under a Vaccine Discovery Center grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Ho’s latest focus is a unique approach to HIV prevention. They are studying the passive administration of a humanized monoclonal antibody, known as ibalizumab, that potently and broadly blocks HIV infection by binding to domain 2 of human CD4, the principal receptor for HIV. Ibalizumab is already in clinical studies in HIV-infected individuals, showing a good safety profile and a well-documented antiviral effect, and is also being studied as a prophylactic in uninfected subjects. In addition, his team has constructed second-generation forms of this antibody that have significantly improved antiviral potency and breadth as well as enhanced pharmacokinetic properties. Moreover, many bispecific antibodies have been constructed and tested. Several have unprecedented breadth and potency against HIV. Lastly, his group is also pursuing the use of gene transfer methods to express in vivo antibodies that might be of use in HIV prevention.
Dr. Ho and colleagues are also actively studying long-acting antiretroviral drugs that are promising as prophylactics against HIV.
Dr. Ho received his undergraduate degree from the California Institute of Technology in 1974 and his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1978. He completed his residency in internal medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine in 1982 and then held a fellowship in infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School until 1985. He has held academic appointments at Harvard Medical School, the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine and the New York University School of Medicine, where he also served as director of the Center for AIDS Research from 1994 to 1996. Dr. Ho has been scientific director and chief executive officer of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center since 1990 and was named professor and physician at Rockefeller in 1996.
Dr. Ho received the Edward Ahrens Award in Clinical Investigation and was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal in 2001. Dr. Ho received the Hoechst Marion Roussel Award (now the Aventis Award) in 1999, the Squibb Award from the Infectious Diseases Society of America in 1996, the New York City Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Science and Technology in 1993 and the Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine in 1991. He was a scientific honoree of the New York Academy of Medicine in 1998 and Time magazine’s Man of the Year in 1996. He is also the recipient of 13 honorary doctorates and is a member of the California Hall of Fame. Dr. Ho is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Institute of Medicine and the Academia Sinica, as well as a foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. He recently was given the Prince Mahidol Award in Medicine by the Kingdom of Thailand.
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