It Takes a Village to Stop HIV
BY Advocate Contributors
December 01 2011 5:00 AM ET
When Yale University biochemistry professor Thomas Steitz first started working on the science of HIV/AIDS, he was quoted in the New England Monthly as saying, “There are a lot of people willing to work on these problems who are just sitting on their hands.” Steitz didn’t want to be one of them. In 1992 he and a team of scientists at Yale created a picture of an HIV protein, reverse transcriptase, interacting with an anti-HIV drug, a breakthrough that led to further development of such medications. And in 2000 he completed a high-resolution image of an uncharted cellular protein molecule that could assist in the creation of new antibiotics. For that discovery and others, he won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2009, along with a handful of other awards and distinctions.
Today, Steitz is a professor of chemistry and the Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale, where he’s been on the faculty since 1970. He’s also an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a nonprofit medical research organization that ranks as one of the nation’s largest philanthropies and plays a powerful role in advancing biomedical research and science education in the U.S.