Find Events Find People Find Jobs Find Sites Find Help Index


August 27, 2001

VRC raises new Hope

By Poul Olson

Earlier this month, Emory’s Vaccine Research Center opened the country’s 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 facitlity’s location—603 Church St. in downtown Decatur—also 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.”

Two clinical research nurses and a research project coordinator, along with two part-time physicians, will staff the clinic. A physician-investigator will join the team in September, and additional personnel will be recruited as the clinic steps up its activities.

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 Merck’s trials of a promising adenovirus-based HIV vaccine.

“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.”


Back to Emory Report August 27, 2001