First In-Person Jonathan Lax Memorial Award Lecture Since 2019 Brings Scientists, Community Together at The Wistar Institute
Philadelphia—For the first time since 2019, The Wistar Institute opened its doors to host, in person, the 27th annual Jonathan Lax Memorial Award Lecture, which featured Deborah Persaud, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine as the keynote speaker. The event brought together researchers and members of the AIDS community from across the country; attendees also had the opportunity to join the first-ever hybrid Lax Lecture virtually.
Dr. Deborah Persaud, in delivering the first Lax Lecture to focus on pediatric HIV/AIDS, spoke of the importance of swift intervention for testing and treating peripartum (that is, transmitted during birth) and pediatric HIV/AIDS.
Her work, she explained to the audience of laypersons and scientific experts alike, has demonstrated that early treatment with antiretroviral therapy can deliver much better quality-of-life outcomes (including, in rare cases, remission) compared with later treatment for pediatric patients living with HIV. Dr. Persaud defined early treatment as two to three months of age, and while this early intervention approach offers great promise, Persaud said, it also presents difficult logistical challenges:
“Most infants are tested around six weeks of age, and that’s why it takes two to three months to actually start antiretroviral treatment. We need to move our testing algorithm down so we can identify children earlier.”
The Jonathan Lax Memorial Award Lecture, in addition to sharing the research progress made on HIV/AIDS with the public, also honors the legacy of its namesake, Jonathan Lax. Philadelphia FIGHT CEO Jane Shull remarked, “Jonathan Lax was an extraordinary individual who, even while living through the darkest days of the AIDS epidemic, knew the importance of fighting for treatment — of fighting for a cure.”
Luis J. Montaner, D.V.M., D.Phil., Herbert Kean, M.D., Family Professor, leader of the HIV Research Program at The Wistar Institute and co-principal investigator of the BEAT-HIV Delaney Collaboratory (beat-hiv.org), presented Dr. Persaud with the Jonathan Lax Memorial Award for her years of work researching HIV/AIDS with a dedication to children living with HIV/AIDS.
“I’m very privileged to have received this award, and I’m standing here because of the commitment of many, many professional researchers, clinical trial participants, parents and children. So I’m representing the pediatric community as a group, and I want to offer thanks to Jonathan Lax for his activism and advocacy for treatment for persons living with HIV,” said Persaud.
The Wistar Institute, the first independent, nonprofit biomedical research institute in the United States, marshals the talents of an international team of outstanding scientists through a culture of biomedical collaboration and innovation. Wistar scientists are focused on solving some of the world’s most challenging and important problems in the field of cancer, infectious disease, and immunology. Wistar has been producing groundbreaking advances in world health for more than a century. Consistent with its legacy of leadership in biomedical research and a track record of life-saving contributions in immunology and cell biology, Wistar scientists’ early-stage discoveries shorten the path from bench to bedside. wistar.org.