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Current Research

Scientific Overview


Martin Markowitz
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Martin Markowitz, M.D.
Professor, Clinical Director
The Markowitz Laboratory at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center engages in translational and clinical research addressing issues of HIV-1 pathogenesis and treatment. Laboratory-based research is performed at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center whereas all clinical studies are performed at The Rockefeller University Hospital.

Central to our efforts is our Primary Infection Program. For the past 12 years we have actively recruited newly infected individuals for studies of HIV-1 pathogenesis and treatment. We are funded by the National Institutes of Health to track the prevalence of transmitted drug resistance, and will expand these studies to include newer targets such as gp41 and HIV-1 integrase. We are also engaged in experiments which seek to understand determinants of fitness of drug resistant viruses.

In addition our program has been a key contributor to understanding the role of the gastrointestinal tract during acute and early HIV-1 infection. We have found that HIV-1 is preferentially targeted to the gastrointestinal mucosa and results in depletion of effector memory mucosal CD4+ T cells. This lesion fails to reconstitute completely despite apparently suppressive antiviral therapy and persists in approximately 70% of patients. We are actively exploring why this lesion persists and attempting to better understand potential consequences.

In response to continued high rates of transmission here in NYC, we are actively seeking funding to establish a multidisciplinary team combining our expertise in virology and clinical HIV medicine with behavioral scientists, epidemiologists and population modelers to better understand the factors fueling the continued epidemic among men who have sex with men here in New York City.

Importantly, we continue to explore novel treatments for acute and early HIV-1 infection that may result in superior outcomes to standard antiviral therapy.

Finally, we are also active participants in multicenter efforts to better understand issues surrounding HIV-1 pathogenesis and are contributors to the Elite Controller Collaborative Study and the Center for HIV-AIDS Vaccine Immunology (CHAVI).

In addition to the study of acute and early infection and HIV pathogenesis, we have been active participants in the development of new agents to treat HIV-1 infection. Critical to this effort has been a successful partnership with industry and the health care providers who refer their patients for study. Over the years we have been assisted in the development of protease inhibitors, nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, and most recently inhibitors of HIV-1 integrase. Our unique clinical research setting allows us to perform a wide range of activities from detailed pharmacokinetic studies during early phase development to larger Phase III studies of safety and efficacy leading to drug approval by regulatory agencies. The Rockefeller University Hospital and the ADARC staff provide clinical, social, and psychological support for our study participants, while maintaining close relationships with primary care providers.