February 9, 2004

Lecture to focus on AIDS vaccine

By Kelly Thompson

Harriet Robinson, chief of microbiology and immunology at Yerkes National Primate Research Center, will deliver a Great Teachers Lecture titled "HIV/AIDS: Closer to a Vaccine" on Thursday, Feb. 19, at 7:30 p.m. in Miller-Ward Alumni House.

A pioneer in vaccine development for retroviruses, Robinson is Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Microbiology and Immunology in the School of Medicine and a faculty member in the Emory Vaccine Center.

She is internationally known for her discovery that purified DNA can be used as a safe, effective vaccine. Most recently, she has been the force behind the development of an AIDS vaccine currently in clinical trials with human volunteers. This vaccine is considered to be a leading candidate for containing HIV infections and preventing progression to AIDS.

In her Great Teachers Lecture, Robinson will explain why it has been so difficult to make an AIDS vaccine and recount critical turns in her collaborative effort to produce such a vaccine. As a division chief at Yerkes, Robinson has worked with the vaccine center to build programs in HIV/AIDS, herpes viruses, malaria, smallpox and anthrax.

Before joining Emory in 1997, Robinson was a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. She received her undergraduate degree from Swarthmore College and her Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technnology. She was a National Science Foundation Fellow, a research associate at Stanford and a principal scientist at the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology as well as co-director of its cancer center.

Robinson is a fellow of the of the American Academy of Microbiology as well as a member of its Board of Governors, a member of the American Academy for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS) Electorate Nominating Committee, a reviewer for the Gates Grand Challenges in Global Health and a member of the National Organizing Committee of Basic Aspects of Vaccines, which is sponsored by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.  

Robinson was named a "Health Care Hero" for health care innovations in the most recent awards from the Atlanta Business Chronicle .