Frank Kirchhoff, an AIDS researcher from Ulm, has learnt to pose important questions and find the right answers during his post-graduate studies. This recipe has brought him and his research group international recognition and makes him one of the best AIDS researchers worldwide. Important publications within a very short time and numerous awards are clear evidence of his outstanding achievements. In addition, he has just started a clinical trial for an HIV inhibitor. Kirchhoff is even more optimistic about a peptide that he discovered in human semen.
Kirchhoff will once again be able to rely on the art of asking important questions. After approximately 25 years of AIDS research, it is still unknown why HIV causes AIDS, whether the HI viruses destroy the cells directly or whether this happens through the death of non-infected cells. Instead of looking into these important questions, Kirchhoff finds that too much time is used to look into the molecular mechanisms. For him the key question remains: can infected people be treated or the spread of the virus prevented?Kirchhoff’s research group does not have to worry about third party funds. Recently, and frustrated by inappropriate EU research funding, Kirchhoff decided to apply for NIH (National Institute of Health) funding and was successful. This was a particularly important success considering the fact that about eight per cent of American researchers succeed with their NIH applications. It will probably not take long before Kirchhoff’s group publishes another outstanding paper as they have an excellent reputation in the field. Kirchhoff was also invited to hold a plenary lecture at the 15th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections 2008 in Boston, MA.
Literature:Schindler, Michael; Münch, Jan, et al.: Nef-Mediated Suppression of T Cell Activation Was Lost in a Lentiviral Lineage that Gave Rise to HIV-1, in: Cell 125, 1055-1067, June 16, 2006Münch, Jan; Ständker, Ludger et al: Discovery and Optimization of a Natural HIV-1 Entry Inhibitor Targeting the gp41 Fusion Peptide, in: Cell 129, 263-275, April 20, 2007.Münch, Jan; Rücker, Elke et al.: Semen-Derived Amyloid FibrilsDrastically Enhance HIV Infection, in: Cell 131, 1059-1071, December 14, 2007.Schindler M., Schmökel J., Specht A., Li H, München J. et al. (2008): Inefficient Nef-Mediated Downmodulation of CD3 and MHC-I-Correlates with Loss of CD4+T Cells in natural SIV Infection. PLoS Pathog 4(7): e100107. doi : 10.1371/journal.ppat.1000107.