Many UW–Madison research programs study the replication strategies of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS. HIV infects more than 34 million people worldwide, and HIV/AIDS causes roughly 1.2 million deaths per year. There is no cure for this life-long infection, and it remains a priority to develop therapies that will reduce HIV transmission or pathogenesis.
We and others have generated powerful quantitative imaging systems for studying HIV replication and spread among cells, and we are investing heavily in developing cutting edge imaging-based diagnostic tools. To do so we require advanced microscopy in an advanced biosafety environment, a resource currently lacking on campus despite UW-Madison’s prominent international reputation in virology and biomedical research. This award will support the installation of an advanced confocal microscope in a biosafety level 3 lab for safely studying fully infectious strains of HIV and immune cells derived from humans. This resource is essential to our ability to perform experiments most relevant to human infection, and thus will directly improve both the impact of UW–Madison research on HIV/AIDS and associated infections and our ability to compete for additional research funding. The microscope will expand the scope of several ongoing and emerging projects and serve at least ten additional UW–Madison investigators who study the replication and immunology of HIV and other viruses that cause human disease.