FIGHT to be Part of Major HIV Cure Research

For Immediate Release: July 13, 2016
PHILADELPHIA—Philadelphia FIGHT Community Health Centers is proud to announce it will be part of one of the world’s largest research projects to find a cure for HIV. The research grant, announced today by The National Institutes of Health (NIH), is in part possible due to the twenty-year partnership between Philadelphia FIGHT and the Wistar Institute.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a nearly $23 million Martin Delaney Collaboratories for HIV Cure Research grant to the BEAT-HIV Delaney Collaboratory to Cure HIV, a consortium of top HIV researchers and community partners led by co-principal investigators Luis J. Montaner, D.V.M., D.Phil., director of the HIV-1 Immunopathogenesis Laboratory at The Wistar Institute Vaccine Center, and James L. Riley, Ph.D., research associate professor at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Philadelphia FIGHT Executive Director Jane Shull remarked, “We are very excited that after over twenty years of partnership with the Wistar Institute and Dr. Luis Montaner that we are able to take this very significant step.”

“A key factor to date has been that Philadelphia FIGHT was present from the beginning in our path towards working on an HIV cure,” said Montaner. “FIGHT has been critical in bringing a strong community voice to our research at a critical time when communication is paramount if we are to recruit and advance HIV cure studies here in Philadelphia.”

The Philadelphia-based BEAT-HIV Delaney Collaboratory to Cure HIV project is one of six grants awarded by the Delaney initiative, joining a highly-selective group of U.S.-led teams charged with advancing the global efforts to develop a cure for HIV. The five-year award promotes a preeminent partnership of more than 30 leading HIV investigators from The Wistar Institute, the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia FIGHT, Rockefeller University, VA San Diego Healthcare System, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the University of Utah.  The grants unite a “dream team” to test novel combined immunotherapies.

“Together we’re building on our teams’ extensive established efforts to move forward and make those next transformative steps that will bring us closer to an HIV cure, ” said Montaner.
Philadelphia FIGHT Medical Director Karam C. Mounzer MD has been a senior member of the investigator study team responsible for planning and performing all previous, ongoing and newly proposed trials.  “Our community is eager to lead the effort to get to a cure within our lifetime,” said Mounzer.

With 37 million people now living with HIV worldwide and 17 million receiving antiretroviral therapy, the Martin Delaney Collaboratories for HIV Cure Research initiative reflects the interest in HIV cure research that has grown into a global priority over the last five years and follows President Obama’s call for increased HIV cure research.

“It is because of FIGHT that we are confident we can move the cure agenda in Philadelphia,” said Montaner.

Philadelphia FIGHT is a comprehensive AIDS service organization providing state of the art, culturally competent HIV primary medical care, consumer education, advocacy, social services, outreach to adults and youth living with HIV and to those who are at high risk, and access to the most advanced clinical research. Each year FIGHT reaches over 8,000 individuals with social services and education programs and treats over 2,000 people with HIV at the Jonathan Lax Treatment Center regardless of their ability to pay. FIGHT’s goal is to end the AIDS epidemic within the lifetime of those currently living with HIV.

The Wistar Institute is an international leader in biomedical research with special expertise in cancer, immunology, infectious diseases and vaccine development. Founded in 1892 as the first independent nonprofit biomedical research institute in the United States, Wistar has held the prestigious Cancer Center designation from the National Cancer Institute since 1972. The Institute works actively to ensure that research advances move from the laboratory to the clinic as quickly as possible.

To view the full press release from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), visit


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Spotlight On

Karam Mounzer, MD

Dr. Mounzer identified two major gaps in the care of patients with HIV/hepatitis C (HCV) co-infection, and the complexity of multidrug-resistant HIV treatment. He is involved with many clinical trials focusing on drug development and better understanding of HIV immunopathogenesis with the Wistar Institute. He is involved in teaching and mentoring.

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Dr. Karam Mounzer

Dr. Mario Cruz

Dr. Mario CruzDr. Cruz is a board certified pediatrician who serves as the Medical Director for our Pediatrics and Adolescent Health Center. He has presented and/or published in the fields of community violence and domestic violence prevention, quality improvement, behavioral health, curriculum development and mentorship. In 2019 he received the Greater Philadelphia Social Innovation Award for Innovations in Healthcare.

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