Dr John Schneider, associate professor, Medicine and Epidemiology, University of Chicago
In an interaction with the BioSpectrum recently at an event organized by the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), Dr John Schneider, associate professor, Medicine and Epidemiology, University of Chicago, spoke about his work in India, vaccine research and funding.
Q: You said vaccines for HIV-AIDS have not been able to make an impact. Why so?
I did a little bit of vaccine work myself during my training when we were working on an antibody based preventive vaccine. One of the things in my opinion is that it have been a challenge to develop an appropriate vaccine for elusive HIV virus. Over the period of five years, I have seen that we have failed to make impact and the focus has shifted now on checking the disease progression. Though failures, some vaccines made news. However, it was being said repeatedly that we are just ten years away. There have been some promising pieces but none have been successful so far. I am not sure if that is the right way as there were incidents where the volunteers had adverse impact and lead to increased risk of infection, making others scared of joining them.
Q: How do you look at the funding mechanism for HIV research in India?
Most of the funding has come from outside including the National Institute of Health, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other international agencies. From Indian side, National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) and Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) are playing their part on various projects. I have not yet see any impact on the ground level as far as breakthrough is concerned.
The collaborations with international clients is need of the hour. Joint funding mechanism with huge collaborations. There is a huge population with which we can work we can work but ideas come from scholars through partnership.