The main research focus of my laboratory is on the definition of pathogenic mechanisms of viral diseases, particularly HIV disease. This focus has spanned a range of fields, from understanding critical structural determinants of infectivity (McCune et al., Cell 1988), to devising a small animal model (the SCID-hu Thy/Liv mouse) to study HIV pathogenesis and to prioritize antiretroviral compounds against HIV (McCune et al., Science 1988a, 1988b, 1990), to studying mechanisms of T cell depletion and repletion in vivo (Bonyhadi et al., Nature 1993; Su et al., Immunity 1995; Komanduri et al., Nature Medicine 1998; Hellerstein et al., Nature Medicine 1998; Stoddart et al., Nature Medicine 2001; McCune Nature 2001). Throughout this body of work, hypothesis-driven, patient-oriented research has been pursued with collaborative teams of basic scientists, translational researchers, and clinicians. Most recently, ever more attention has been devoted to understanding the correlates of protective immunity against HIV, with the specific intent to work with others to develop an effective vaccine. This change of focus has now been materialized by the creation of the Division of Experimental Medicine.
The Division will grow over the next several years to include 7-8 labs, led by scientists who are doing cutting edge research on the immunology of HIV disease and/or of other chronic infectious diseases (for instance, tuberculosis, malaria, and hepatitis) that afflict people with HIV disease around the world. Its overall goal is to better understand the means by which the strengths of the human immune system can be garnered to fight HIV as well as these other infectious agents. With this knowledge, we hope to facilitate and expedite the development of effective vaccines against all of them.
At the same time, we are involved in the creation of the UCSF Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, a multidisciplinary effort spanning each of the four UCSF professional schools and aimed at facilitating the process by which better therapies can be moved from the lab bench to the clinic.