Dr. Margaret A. Fischl Delivers Inaugural ’Cane Talk

Margaret A. Fischl, M.D., a pioneer in research and treatment related to HIV/AIDS, was one of 10 speakers at the first-ever session of ’Cane Talks – 10-minute talks by University of Miami experts on major challenges facing humankind – which took place last Friday as part of UM President Julio Frenk’s inauguration activities.

Fischl, professor of medicine, director of the HIV/AIDS Clinical Research Unit, and co-director of the Miami Center for AIDS Research at the Miller School of Medicine, was one of the first investigators to pinpoint the heterosexual transmission of HIV and was part of the team on the pivotal clinical study that led to approval of the first drug for the treatment of HIV in 1986.

Her talk, “Conquering HIV/AIDS: The Road to a Treatable Disease,” told the story of how she and other scientists developed groundbreaking treatments for HIV, resulting in rapid, dramatic reductions in the number of HIV-related deaths. She also spoke about the challenges that lie ahead as researchers push to identify a vaccine to prevent HIV infection.

“It was very much an honor to give a ’Cane Talk and to represent the Miller School of Medicine,” said Fischl. “In the early 1980s, when the disease first appeared, Miami was at the epicenter of HIV/AIDS. We were able to quickly describe both the scope of transmission of HIV and the benefit of early treatment of HIV complications.

“This positioned us to lead the advancement of antiretroviral treatment from the first drug to treat HIV infection to a two-drug combination treatment and then a highly active three-drug antiretroviral treatment, which provided significant clinical and survival benefits and changed the course of HIV to a treatable disease. Combination antiretroviral therapy is considered by many to be one of the major advances in clinical medicine in the past decades.”

Last Friday’s program was just the beginning of ’Cane Talks. The University hopes to present 100 ’Cane Talks on a variety of pressing global issues during the next decade leading up to UM’s centennial.

Additional information about the presenters and their topics, as well as future links to their video presentations, are available here.

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