2009 Distinguished Research Career Award

Irvin S. Y. Chen, Ph. D., Director of the UCLA AIDS Institute and Professor of Microbiology & Immunology and Medicine at the UCLS School of Medicine.

Dr. Irvin S.Y. Chen received his B.A. in biology/genetics at Cornell University, and his Ph.D. in molecular biology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison under the guidance of Dr. Howard Temin, a 1975 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine. Dr. Chen continued research training at UCLA with Dr. David Golde focusing his post-doctoral studies on the newly identified human T-cell leukemia viruses. Since 1990, Dr. Chen has been Professor of Microbiology & Immunology and Medicine in the UCLA School of Medicine. Dr. Chen has published over 230 peer-reviewed articles in the field of molecular virology and he is the recipient of numerous scientific awards and honors including a National Cancer Institute Merit Award and a Leukemia Society of America Scholar Award. In 1991 he became the founding Director of the UCLA AIDS Institute and he has also served as director of numerous laboratories in the UCLA Medical Center including a multi-million dollar UCLA Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) and National Institutes of Health Infrastructure program. For ten years, he served as an Editor for the Journal of Virology.

Dr. Chen is an internationally renowned investigator in cancer and AIDS research, and he has made significant scientific contributions to the study of the human retroviruses: human T cell leukemia virus type 1 and 2 (HTLVs) and human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). He was the first to clone HTLV 2, and he is co-inventor of a blood screening test that is used in blood banks worldwide. He has made a number of fundamental discoveries regarding how HTLV and HIV-1 infect cells and cause disease. Early investigations by his group on the genetic variation of HIV-1 determining cell tropism led to subsequent discovery by others of the HIV-1 co-receptor CCR5. Recent work is directed at genetically ablating CCR5 as a therapy for HIV-1 disease. Dr. Chen was the first to develop gene therapy vectors that can target specific cells and tissues of the body through intravenous injection. Dr. Chen has been awarded four patents arising from his scientific discoveries.

In his capacity as Director of the UCLA AIDS Institute, Dr. Chen coordinates all AIDS-related patient care, education and research activities at UCLA and affiliated hospitals. He also has extensive industrial collaborations with various pharmaceutical companies, including Amgen, Merck, and Abbott Laboratories. He is currently engaged in a start-up company for HIV-1 genetic therapy involving collaborations with UCLA, Salk Institute, and Cal-Tech. In his academic and administrative positions, Dr. Chen continues to transform fundamental discoveries from the basic research at the bench to therapeutic application at the bedside.

Dr. Chen received the engraved crystal award sculpture and presented the special lecture "Turning the Tables: Stem Cell Modification using HIV to Fight HIV" in April 2009 at the College of Veterinary Medicine on the campus of The Ohio State University.

Dr. Chen's visit was sponsored jointly by the Center for Retrovirus Research and and the Dept of Veterinary Biosciences, Dept of Molecular Virology, Immunology and Medical Genetics, and the Viral Oncology Program of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Dr. Irvin Chen (right) receives Career Award crystal from Center for Retrovirus Research Director Dr. Patrick Green

Dr. Irvin Chen (right) receives Career Award crystal from Center for Retrovirus Research Director Dr. Patrick Green

Dr. Chen during distinguished seminar presentation of his research to Center for Retrovirus Research and OSU faculty, students, and staff

Dr. Chen during distinguished seminar presentation of his research to Center for Retrovirus Research and OSU faculty, students, and staff

Dr. Chen with Center for Retrovirus Research principle investigators (left to right) Drs. Mathes, Boris-Lawrie, Green, Chen, and Lairmore

Dr. Chen with Center for Retrovirus Research principle investigators (left to right) Drs. Mathes, Boris-Lawrie, Green, Chen, and Lairmore