Creating ImPaKt for HIV/AIDS research

With World AIDS Day as a backdrop, Eric Arts, HBSc’90, PhD, along with Dr. Michael J. Strong, Dean, unveiled plans for The Imaging Pathogens for Knowledge Translation (ImPaKT) Facility.

The first of its kind in Canada, the facility will combine sophisticated imaging technology with a world-class biocontainment facility and allow for real-time non-invasive assessments of interactions between the pathogen and its host. It will also facilitate the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for the treatment of infectious diseases.

For Arts, who has dedicated his research career to HIV/AIDS, the establishment of this facility and the commitment of the investment of Western University and Schulich Medicine & Dentistry to infectious diseases research were key factors in his decision to return to his alma mater and to London.

“One of the major drawing points for my coming to Western was that Schulich Medicine & Dentistry would have the most advanced facilities in the country to carry out the next generation in pathogen-related research," said Arts.

Arts arrived to Western in the summer, and his work will build on a rich history of outstanding research and reputation in the School’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology. That reputation has been established in part thanks to the work of Chil-Yong Kang, who is known globally for his work in developing and now clinically testing a preventative AIDS vaccine.

During the ImPaKT facility announcement, Arts shared a compelling historical overview of the disease to an audience of faculty, staff and community members.

He was joined by a panel of experts from Schulich Medicine & Dentistry including Stephen Barr, PhD, Jimmy Dikeakos, PhD, Gregor Reid, PhD, and Dr. Michael Silverman.

Each panel member shared information on their work, providing a picture of the outstanding research underway at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry focused on HIV/AIDS. The researchers also had an opportunity to field questions from the audience ranging from issues on government funding, the stigma that HIV/AIDS patients live with, and the need for greater education. Dr. Chris Mackie, Officer of Public Health, Middlesex London Health Unit, acted as a moderator during the discussion.

The ImPaKT Facility will occupy 4,200 square feet on the sixth floor of the Medical Sciences Building and is slated for completion in the fall of 2015.