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NCIRE-The Veterans Health Research Institute is the leading private nonprofit institute devoted to Veterans health research in the United States. Our mission is to advance Veterans health through research.

We support the work of some of the nation's foremost physicians and scientists at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the premier biomedical research facility in the VA system. All have faculty appointments at the University of California, San Francisco, which has its own proud traditions of research and patient care. We also partner with the U.S. Department of Defense to support health research on behalf of our men and women in the Armed Forces.

Those who have served in uniform have given their best for their country. In return, we believe that they deserve nothing less than the best health care research we can provide.

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Joseph K. Wong, MD

Staff Physician, Medical Service, SFVAHCS
Associate Professor of Medicine, UCSF
Email: joseph.wong2@va.gov

HIV Persistence and Genetic Adaptability

Dr. Wong was one of the first scientists to identify a small number of HIV-infected cells that can remain dormant in the bodies of patients receiving "cocktails" of antiviral drugs. These cells have the ability to restart high levels of virus infection when antiviral drugs are stopped. Dr. Wong's laboratory now seeks to understand the nature of this form of dormant (latent) infection, as well as how low level replication of virus contributes to maintaining HIV in the body of patients, even after up to 10 years of continuous antiviral treatment.  Such new information may help in the design of better ways of purging the last remnants of virus, and for refining existing ways we treat HIV-infected patients. Dr. Wong's laboratory has also worked with collaborators to better understand how HIV changes genetically to adapt to infection of cells in different body tissues.  Because some antiviral drugs do not get into the brain, and up to 50 percent of untreated patients can develop central neurological complications that occur as a direct consequence of HIV infection, this is an important area of investigation.  Dr. Wong's laboratory was among the first to demonstrate the distinct genetic composition of HIV virus in the central nervous system, including those genetic elements that confer resistance to antiviral compounds.

To see Dr. Wong on Pub Med, click here.