August 27, 2001
VRC raises new Hope
By Poul Olson
Earlier this month, Emorys Vaccine Research Center opened the
countrys first facility dedicated solely to testing vaccines in
clinical trials. Called The Hope Clinic, the 3,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art
facility will coordinate human clinical trials of vaccines for AIDS and
other diseases and basic studies of the immune system.
The Hope Clinic provides much-needed administrative and laboratory space for Emory to conduct vaccine clinical trials and translational immunology studies. The facitlitys location603 Church St. in downtown Decaturalso ensures easy access for trial volunteers. In addition to having its own parking lot, the building is within walking distance of the Decatur MARTA station.
People who are participating in these studies are doing so for
altruistic reasons, said Mark Feinberg, who helped create Hope Clinic
and serves as its medical director. We owe them a pleasant environment
and a way to get to us easily.
The clinic can accommodate multiple trials simultaneously. It is outfitted
with three examination rooms, several offices, a conference room and a
laboratory for preparing blood samples.
In addition to a basic study using yellow fever vaccine conducted with
VRC Director Rafi Ahmed, Hope Clinic staff will continue Phase I trials
to assess safety and immunogenecity of two AIDS vaccines developed by
Merck & Co.
A third clinical trial will be initiated within the next two months in
collaboration with Merck.
Feinberg proudly points to the fact that, within a short period of time,
Emory has become one of the most productive HIV vaccine clinical trial
operations in the country. It has recruited some 65 percent of the volunteers
participating nationwide in Mercks trials of a promising adenovirus-based
This is a credit to the highly talented and motivated people who
work with me, Feinberg said. It also highlights the fact that
Atlanta seems to be a receptive place to do HIV vaccine trials. The community
here really wants to make a difference.
Feinberg and Jeffrey Lennox, associate professor of medicine, also are
working closely with Yerkes Chief of Microbiology and Immunology Harriet
Robinson and her collaborators to plan a Phase I clinical trial of their
multiprotein AIDS vaccine. Recruit-ment of volunteers for that study should
begin next spring.
We have tremendous potential, Feinberg said, to be the most productive place in the country for conducting clinical trials of vaccines.