As the new dean of the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences, James E.K. Hildreth has already received prestigious recognition from the National Institutes of Health in the form of the 2011 NIH Director's Pioneer Award for his groundbreaking HIV/AIDS research.
As stated by the NIH, Pioneer Awards are designed to support individual scientists of exceptional creativity who propose pioneering – and possibly transforming approaches – to major challenges in biomedical and behavioral research.
"I am extremely excited about this award since it will give us a solid amount of time to deeply explore the hypothesis that other viruses are contributing to the high prevalence of HIV in certain parts of the world," states Hildreth. "Specifically, young women in South Africa are exhibiting much higher rates of HIV than can be explained by their behavior, environment, or infection rate of their partners."
During the first year of the study Hildreth plans to perfect test tube studies in the lab to confirm which viruses deserve the most attention, then begin collaborative studies with colleagues in Africa to test the hypothesis in a real-world setting as early as year two.
"One of the great things about the Pioneer award is it provides us with the freedom to explore new discoveries as they arise throughout the research process, and to evolve our research plan as necessary," explains Hildreth. "It is also a grant that requires a collaborative plan which has allowed us to assemble a team of stellar scientists from within the College of Biological Sciences, UC Davis as a whole, Meharry Medical College, and Africa."
The Pioneer Award will provide $500,000 per year for five years. For more information about the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award Program, click here.
To learn more about Dean Hildreth, click here.