The Office of AIDS Research (OAR), an arm of the NationalInstitutes of Health that sets the course for AIDS researchthrough its disbursement of $1.3 billion in government funds,has a new director to go with its newly expanded powers. NIHDirector Harold Varmus on Thursday named William Paul tohead the office.

Paul, an immunologist who has served as chief of theLaboratory of Immunology at the National Institute of Allergyand Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1970, replaces NIAIDDirector Anthony Fauci as head of OAR and will be the officeUsfirst full-time director.

RDr. Paul is a superb scientist who will bring fresh perspectivesto the already substantial NIH efforts against AIDS,S saidVarmus.

Paul was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1982.He has authored more than 400 scientific papers and is knownfor his discovery of interleukin-4 (IL-4), one of a family ofimmune system mediators known as cytokines.

In June 1993, Congress passed legislation stipulating that NIHspending on AIDS research be consolidated and administeredthrough one office in accordance with a comprehensivestrategic plan. As a result, OAR will now set priorities for AIDSresearch.

In addition to developing an annual strategic plan, OAR willestablish coordinating committees composed of NIHadministrators and physicians covering five disciplines: naturalhistory and epidemiology, etiology and pathogenesis,therapeutics, vaccines and behavioral research. Spending onAIDS will be spread among these five areas in varyingproportions, depending on the OAR directorUs judgment and theinput of expert advisory committees.

Paul will also administer a $10 million discretionary fund Rtotake advantage of unanticipated scientific opportunities orapproach unexpected public health challenges throughresearch.S

In addition to steering research, Paul is expected to workclosely with AIDS activist groups and `Kristine Gebbie, the so-called RAIDS czar,S the National AIDS policy coordinatorrecently appointed by President Clinton.

The OAR legislation, contained in the NIH Revitalization Act of1993, was supported by many AIDS activist groups as a meansof better focusing the scientific assault on the AIDS epidemic.

RAIDS research had been balkanized among 21 differentinstitutes at the NIH,S explained Mark Harrington, an activistwith the Treatment Action Group (TAG), an independentresearch advocacy organization based in New York that split offfrom ACT UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) in 1992.RMost diseases have their own institute, but AIDS is truly aninterdisciplinary disease, so we didnUt want an AIDS institute.S

Harrington praised the choice of Paul, saying the new director'sgrasp of fundamental scientific issues will help the AIDSresearch effort and his experience working within abureaucracy will allow him to administer effectively.

Although Paul reported to Fauci during his tenure at NIAID, hewill now report directly to Varmus. Paul will apparently retainhis title as head of NIAIDUs Laboratory of Immunology, but hisduties will be carried out by a deputy. Fauci, who has served asOAR director since the inception of the office in 1988, willretain his position at NIAID, the institute that receives thelargest portion of NIH's AIDS budget each year (roughly 40percent).

-- Lisa Piercey Business Editor

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.