One of the worst diseases affecting the world right now is the AIDS epidemic, specifically in Africa. Over 60% of the world's population with AIDS lives in Africa, and some areas in the southern part of the continent have populations where over 15% of people have HIV. It is a terrible scourge, especially in parts of the world where they lack the resources or the medications to fight the disease. Over 34 million people have HIV and more than 25 million people have died.
So what can be done about it? One Purdue badass is working on the answer. Professor Arun K. Ghosh was recently honored by the National Institutes of Health for his work in fighting drug-resistant strains of HIV. From the Purdue release on his award:
Arun K. Ghosh, the Ian P. Rothwell Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Medicinal Chemistry in the colleges of Science and Pharmacy, received a Method to Extend Research in Time - or MERIT - award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. The award can provide an extended grant cycle of up to 10 years and is intended to lessen the burden of grant application submission for researchers with a history of talent and success.
"The MERIT award is given to scientists whose productivity has been superior and who are expected to deliver creative, innovative research that will have an exceptional impact on the field," said Richard O. Buckius, Purdue's vice president for research. "It gives researchers the freedom to explore avenues that may be perceived as risky, in terms of being a sure success, but that could offer tremendous rewards in terms of people's health and the advancement of science. The award is a testament to the hard work of Professor Ghosh and the promise of his research into treatments for HIV and AIDS."
Ghosh created a molecule that in 2006 became the first approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat drug-resistant HIV. The drug molecule, known as Darunavir, is now approved in 80 countries and is used as a frontline therapy for HIV and AIDS. Ghosh continues to improve upon his original success and designs even more powerful molecules in an effort to improve treatments and reduce side effects.
I enjoy honoring Purdue faculty who work to fight some of the world's largest problems by featuring them in these Profiles in Badassery. I am a firm believer that God gives each person specific talents not only for our own success, but so that we can benefits others by viewing it as our responsibility to do so. Some people see this, others don't. Professor Ghosh saw a need and has worked diligently to use his talents toward finding a solution. I can think of no better way to live life.