CONTACT: GARY GALLUZZO
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0009; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: July 9, 2001
Professor Vasu Nair receives American Chemical Society Award
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Vasu Nair, professor of chemistry in the University of
Iowa College of Liberal Arts, will receive the 2001 Midwest Award of the American
Chemical Society (ACS) on Oct. 11 during the annual meeting of the ACS Midwest
Region in Lincoln, Neb.
The award is being given for Nair's groundbreaking work in organic chemical
synthesis, and, in particular, for applications thereof to the development
of novel therapeutics for treatment of HIV infection and virulence. The St.
Louis section of the ACS sponsors the Midwest Award, and the Midwest region
consists of Iowa, Arkansas, Missouri, Southern Illinois, Nebraska, Kansas
and South Dakota.
Last year Nair, together with researchers at the National Cancer Institute
(NCI) in Bethesda, Md. and several UI chemistry department postdoctoral associates,
published in the Journal of the ACS their discovery of potential HIV-inhibiting
molecules that could one day prove therapeutically significant in the treatment
of AIDS. Although the work remains years away from potential human testing,
it is significant for its ability to stop HIV and for the way in which it
attacks the virus. In short, Nair and his colleagues found small, stable molecules
that inhibit the integration of viral DNA into human chromosomal DNA. This
is important because if DNA from the HIV virus cannot enter human chromosomal
DNA, then it cannot exploit the human cellular chemistry it needs to reproduce
itself and destroy the human immune system. In time, the discovery may lead
to the development of a drug or other therapy to limit the progression of
Nair, internationally known for his work on antiviral compounds, was named
UI Foundation Distinguished Professor of Chemistry in 1993 and has received
various patents, research awards and grants. In 1998 he was elected a Fellow
of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) "for
his contributions to the development of antiviral agents."