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Dr. Zachary Klase Receives $2.1 million Grant from NIDA for HIV Research

By Brian Kirschner

Celebrating Dr. Zach Klase

Celebrating the Avenir Award grant are (left to right) former chair of Biological Sciences Dr. Peter Berget, Misher College of Arts and Sciences dean Dr. Suzanne Murphy, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Dr. Zachary A. Klase, and USciences president Dr. Paul Katz.  

With a focus on HIV/AIDS research, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Zachary A. Klase, PhD, was selected to receive the prestigious Avenir Award, a $2.1 million, five-year grant, from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in May 2017. NIDA is part of the National Institutes of Health.

Through the Avenir Award grant, “Understanding the overlap of chromatin alteration in HIV-1 and drug abuse” (1DP2DA044550-01), Dr. Klase is focused on examining how drugs of abuse may alter the epigenetic landscape in HIV-1 infected individuals.

“The Avenir Award grant is an example of what happens when you are free to follow the data. When I got to USciences, I never intended to do anything with drug abuse or the brain, yet this is where I find myself,” said Dr. Klase. “It’s a nice lesson in the serendipity of science.”

Dr. Klase, who joined USciences in 2014, has focused on the molecular pathogenesis of HIV-1, with a particular emphasis on cure research. Of particular interest to him are the mechanisms that control viral replication and allow the virus to persist in the presence of therapy. His work combines molecular biology and immunology practices to examine the interface between host and pathogen. His research into HIV has also extended into studying Zika virus as Dr. Klase sees similarities in the way Zika infects cells to other known illnesses such as HIV, Dengue Fever, chikungunya and West Nile Virus.

The Avenir Award Program for Research on Substance Abuse and HIV/AIDS was launched in 2015 to support creative individuals who wish to pursue research approaches for improved prevention and treatment, long term retention in care, and ultimately, eradication of HIV within substance using populations infected with, or at risk for, HIV/AIDS. The Avenir (meaning “future” in French) Awards support early stage investigators who propose highly innovative studies.

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