˜Virus hunter’ searches for HIV cureI am deeply in awe.
BY: COLLEEN HAGEN Monday, October 13, 2008 - 11:32 PM
Judy Mikovits, an assistant clinical professor in the medical school at UNR, researches the HIV virus in attempt to find a cure.
From the outside it is just a brick building. Still bearing the U.S. Bureau of Mines seal on its face, the Applied Research Facility at the University of Nevada, Reno is easy to glance over. But inside the unremarkable structure, scientist Judy Mikovits is slaving away with a a singular mission: find a cure.
From her early work on one of the first teams of scientists to isolate the HIV virus to her work studying neuro-immune disease, Mikovits’s life has been consumed by being a self-described “virus hunter.
Without a white coat over her cream-colored sweater and sun-bleached wavy hair, Mikovits doesn’t look the part of the scientist. She wears leather-top-siders, a testament to her love for boating. Perhaps the only evidence of her zeal for science are the slight wrinkles around her clear, glassy eyes, evidence of years of squinting into a microscope, searching for a cure.
Her fervent desire to cure disease led Mikovits to the National Cancer Institute after graduating college in 1980. There, she played a role in helping research the mysterious disease that seemed to be killing young homosexual men.
Under Dr. Frank Ruscetti, Mikovits began to study a virus that seemed to have scientists around the world stumped.
“At the time we were all hearing about the young men in California and New York who were getting opportunistic diseases like pneumonia,”Mikovits said. “They were 30-something, these gorgeous men, and they were dying. When you see that, you suspect a virus, something destroying the immune system.
The virus killed every cell it touched, making it impossible to research. The scientific community was desperate to find a way to grow the virus, Ruscetti and Mikovits found it.
Nurturing T-cells, they were able to grow the virus. Mikovits herself was the first to isolate it in anything outside the bloodstream: she found it in saliva.
Mikovits was even one of the first to study HIV in a doctoral thesis. Those in her industry were so anxious to find a cure for the fatal virus that at her thesis’ defense, Mikovits was not asked to change a single word.
“My defense was exactly one week after Magic Johnson announced he had HIV,”she said. “All they wanted to know was, ˜Are we going to kick this thing?’ and, ˜What about Magic Johnson?’ It was a collegial discussion about Magic Johnson for two hours.
Saturday, February 11, 2012
Dr. Mikovits, HIV researcher extraordinaire
After hearing her extraodinary experience with human retroviruses, it is good to see that Dr. Mikovits has put her knowlegde to work with HIV.
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