Dr. “Sal” Butera was the first person at the College of Veterinary Medicine to complete his DVM and MS degrees simultaneously, both of which he earned in 1985. Afterward, he entered into a PhD program at Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in the Department of Pathology, where he was a USDA Food and Agricultural Science National Needs Graduate Fellow in Biotechnology. This was followed by a National Research Council post-doctoral fellowship in the Retrovirus Disease Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in Atlanta.
During a 22-year career at the CDC, Dr. Butera rose from staff research fellow to chief of the Virology Section in the HIV and Retrovirology Branch, before becoming the associate director for Laboratory Science in the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention. During this time he was the principal investigator on two U.S. patents, both of which address strategies for inhibiting viral replication and establishing HIV from hematopoietic progenitor cells. He received the Outstanding Service Award from the Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases at the CDC for handling public inquiries regarding the potential risk of the Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus zoonosis.
Dr. Butera then transitioned to The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, where he initially served as the director of scientific support in the Neutralizing Antibody Center, which is part of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. In 2012, he and his group secured a $100 million, seven-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to establish the Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology and Immunogen Discovery (CHAVI-ID), one of two such centers with the goal to develop a preventative HIV vaccine. Dr. Butera now serves as the chief science officer for the CHAVI-ID, where reviews scientific findings, leverages resources to advance promising leads, ensures a collaborative research environment and documents the return on investment to the NIH.
His many other contributions include more than 80 peer-reviewed scientific articles, manuscripts, nine book chapters and numerous invited presentations at national and international meetings in the field of HIV and infectious diseases. Dr. Butera has received numerous awards for his scientific expertise and innovation.
He has also served in numerous editorial and advisory positions, for Archives of Virology and AIDS, the Scientific Advisory Committee of the American Foundation for AIDS Research, and the AIDS Vaccine Research Subcommittee for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.