Emory Report
October 26, 2009
Volume 62, Number 8

Highlights from the
2009 Action Cycling


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October 26, 2009
Campaign Emory
Pedaling for a purpose raises funds for Emory Vaccine Center

By Cindy Murphy-Tofig

Registration has just begun for the next Action Cycling 200, a bicycle ride to raise money for the Emory Vaccine Center. The annual event is set for May 22-23, 2010.

Bicyclists who lined up outside the School of Medicine for the 2009 ride this spring had two common goals — completing a 200-mile ride and advancing work on HIV and AIDS vaccines.

They did both, pedaling to Eatonton, Ga., and back and raising a record $175,000 for the Emory Vaccine Center.

Action Cycling Atlanta’s sixth annual AIDS Vaccine 200 had 87 riders and about as many volunteers, says Mark Rahe of Action Cycling’s board of directors.

“We’re one of the few, if not the only, rides that raises money for an AIDS vaccine,” Rahe says.

All of the money donated by bicyclists and volunteers goes to the Emory Vaccine Center [www.vaccines.emory.edu]. Since it was formed in 2002, Action Cycling has raised more than $600,000 for the center through its AIDS vaccine rides.

All of the money has been unrestricted, giving the Emory Vaccine Center flexibility on how the funds are used, says vaccine center director Rafi Ahmed.

“It’s very critical in moving the HIV vaccine development program forward,’” Ahmed says.

Donations from Action Cycling helped scientist Harriet Robinson develop an AIDS vaccine. That vaccine, developed at the Emory Vaccine Center, is in human clinical trials. In February, 100 subjects enrolled in phase 2a of the trial, one of the only human clinical trials currently being held for an AIDS vaccine. Phase 2a, a trial in low risk individuals, will continue for another year and a half and will have 225 people enrolled by its completion.

The donations also help immunologist Rama Amara’s team as it develops an HIV treatment vaccine. The vaccine — given to HIV positive patients who are on a drug regimen — is intended to teach the body how to recognize and control HIV naturally. The early data from non-human primate trials is encouraging, Ahmed says.

Action Cycling’s years of support have been invaluable to the faculty members and scientists at the Emory Vaccine Center, Ahmed says.

“It’s great at all levels — at the scientific level, at the academic level. People putting so much faith in our group, it’s quite remarkable,” Ahmed adds.

This gift is part of Campaign Emory, a $1.6 billion fund-raising endeavor that combines private support and the University’s people, places and programs to make a powerful contribution to the world. Investments through Campaign Emory fuel efforts to address fundamental challenges: improving health, gaining ground in science and technology, resolving conflict, harnessing the power of the arts, and educating the heart and mind.