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 31 years and has published more than 375 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 treatment approaches have led to a dramatic reduction in AIDS-associated mortality in developed countries 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 vaccine research and development efforts include new strategies that target HIV and other viral antigens to dendritic cells to elicit better immune responses.
The group’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. 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 is also involved in addressing the spread of AIDS in China. His team has established a number of initiatives to address the problem, including public education to raise awareness and to fight stigma and discrimination. They were the first to administer effective antiretroviral therapy in China, and they are leading the way in the implementation of best practices to block mother-to-child transmission of HIV in the Yunnan province.
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 the Friendship Award from the State Council of the People’s Republic of China in 2003 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.
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