H. Clifford Lane, M.D.
Dr. Clifford Lane came to the
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in 1979 to do basic
research on the immune system. In the early 80s, when he got his first
look at the immune systems of people with AIDS, he noticed that despite
lacking helper T cells, these people had markedly hyper-reactive B cells–the
cells that make antibodies. “The B cells of these patients were
just incredibly turned on,” he says. Because he had been studying
B-cell activity in other immune diseases, this observation sparked his
interest in AIDS. Shortly after, Dr. Lane became a prominent member of
a “grassroots” team of scientists who came together to study
this strange new disease.
Because NIH researchers enjoy the freedom to pursue new interests, this
scientific team could respond quickly to the AIDS threat, Dr. Lane says.
While some researchers searched for a cause, Dr. Lane concentrated on
understanding the immune system abnormalities in people with AIDS and
looked for ways to stop the disease. Working with Dr. Anthony S. Fauci,
Dr. Lane became the first to attempt bone marrow and white blood cell
transfers from healthy twins to their identical siblings with AIDS as
a therapeutic strategy. He also explored alpha interferon and interleukin-2
as possible AIDS treatments. Although the twin studies didn't yield a
practical therapy, Dr. Lane's work increased understanding of the nature
of the immune system abnormalities of AIDS in important ways, and his
work with IL-2 continues to the present day.
Dr. Lane relates a story about his attempts to investigate the gay tourist
trade in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, during an official trip there in 1983.
Braving nightclub bouncers armed with handguns and guided only by a reluctant
cab driver through blackout-darkened city streets, Dr. Lane tried to ascertain
the effect of AIDS on Port-au-Prince's largely underground gay population.
As clinical director of NIAID, Dr. Lane continues to search for better
AIDS treatments and to better understand the nature of the immune system
abnormalities associated with HIV infection.
|H. Clifford Lane, M.D.