amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

A Scientific Life Fully Lived



August 10, 2006—amfAR congratulates former grantee Dr. Joseph Sodroski, who recently won the 2006 Retrovirology Prize, an honor awarded by the Ming K. Jeang Foundation in recognition of his outstanding contributions to HIV/AIDS research.

In 1986 amfAR awarded Dr. Sodroski a grant to characterize and generate images of the outer envelope of HIV, an ambitious and challenging project that would ultimately require 12 years to fulfill. In 1998 he and former amfAR fellow Dr. Rich Wyatt (and other colleagues) finally published the first x-ray crystallography images of the HIV glycoprotein gp120. This work ranks among the most important and far-reaching achievements in HIV/AIDS research and continues to influence the exploration of new anti-HIV therapies as well as the design of new AIDS vaccine candidates. amfAR proudly displays an enlarged rendering of this x-ray crystallographic image at its offices, where it covers a full wall in the Foundation's board room.

During his career, Dr. Sodroski’s other findings have spanned a remarkable range of topics. A 1992 scientific publication described his work on generating a new hybrid virus derived from HIV and the related monkey virus SIV, a tool that continues to allow scientists to delve further into understanding why HIV causes disease in humans, and to better predict which investigative therapies and vaccines may work. More recently, Dr. Sodroski and colleagues solved a long-standing scientific mystery with their 2004 discovery of a naturally occurring protein called TRIM5alpha that can, under the right circumstances, sabotage the ability of HIV to reproduce itself.

In a recent interview Dr. Sodroski noted that, “A scientific life is fully lived, with its share of agony and ecstasy," a statement that clearly conveys the passion with which he approaches his research on HIV. Dr. Sodroski’s first 20 years of HIV research have yielded real breakthroughs and we look forward to seeing the fruits of his enthusiasm over the next 20 years.