amFAR announces new institute devoted to finding a cure for HIV

Posted on 30 Nov 2015 at 4:55pm

Paul Volberding, M.D

Officials with amFAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, announced today (Monday, Nov. 30), the establishment of the amFAR Institute for HIV Cure Research. The new institute will be a collaborative effort based at UC San Francisco and devoted to developing the scientific basis for a cure for HIV by the end of 2020. The institute will be the cornerstone of amFAR’s $100 million cure research investment strategy.

The announcement came during a press conference held early Monday afternoon, just one day before the world marks World AIDS Day 2015.

amFAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost said the foundation “intend[s] ti quicken the pace of cure research by supporting a collaborative community of leading HIV researchers in one cohesive enterprise. The institute will allow them to conduct the science, share ideas and test and evaluate new technologies and potential therapies in a state-of-the-art environment. And I can think of no better base for such an enterprise than the San Francisco Bar Area, the crucible of technological innovation in America.”

Frost added that establishing an institute dedicated to finding a cure for HIV “in a city that was once considered ground zero of the AIDS epidemic brings full circle the outstanding work that UCSF’s researchers have been doing over the past 30 years.”

In a statement released immediately following the press conference, amFAR officials said the new institute will support teams of scientists working across the research continuum — from basic science to clinical studies — and will tap into UCSF’s “extensive research network across the region.” Among the agencies collaborating with the new institute will be the Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology and Blood Systems Research, as well as Oregon Health and Science University, Berkely, Gilead Sciences and the Infectious Disease Research Institute in Seattle.

The new institute was established with a $20 million grant over five years, and it will allow teams of researchers to collaborate across institutions and disciplines to address “the four key challenges that must be overcome to effect a cure: pinpoint the precise locations of the latent reservoirs of virus; determine how they are formed and persist; quantify the amount of virus in them; and eradicate the reservoirs from the body.

The director of the new institute will be Paul Volberding, M.D., a UCSF professor of medicine. Joining him on the leadership team will be Mike McCune, M.D., Ph.D., chief and professor of UCSF’s Division of Experimental Medicine; Warner Greene, M.D., Ph.D., director and Nick and Sue Hellman distinguished professor of translational medicine with the Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology, professor of medicine, microbiology and immunology at UCSF and co-director of the UCSF-Gladstone Center for AIDS Research; Satish Pillai, Ph.D., associate professor of laboratory  medicine at UCSF and associate investigator with Blood Systems Research Institute; Steven Deeks, M.D., professor of medicine at UCSF; Teri Liegler, Ph.D., director of the Virology Core Laboratory at UCSF-GIVI Center for AIDS Research; and Peter Hunt, M.D., associate professor of medicine in the HIV/AIDS division and a member of the executive committee of the AIDS Research Institute at UCSF.

They will work in collaboration with Afam Okoye, Ph.D., staff scientist at Oregon Health and Science University.

“For those of us who watched helplessly as thousands died, the opportunity to try and develop an HIV cure is truly amazing,” Volberding said. “We are proud to have been chosen by amFAR as the only amFAR HIV Cure Institute in the nation. We’re ready to end this epidemic.”


DoJ and FBI discuss hate crimes at Cathedral of Hope tonight

Posted on 30 Nov 2015 at 2:59pm

Steve Sprinkle

Representatives from the Northern District of Texas U.S. Attorney’s Office and from the FBI Dallas Field Office present a forum on hate crime prevention tonight, Nov. 30, at 6:30 p.m. at Cathedral of Hope.

Steve Sprinkle from Brite Divinity School will also be on the program.

Sprinkle is a hate crime survivor and has studied the problem for years. His book Unfinished Lives recounts the lives of people killed in anti-LGBT violence. He called the current 12-plus gay bashings that have happened in a two-month period in Oak Lawn unprecedented.

A DoJ representative will discuss that agency’s role in combatting hate crimes.

Sprinkle said that while the DoJ may work in conjunction with local police in solving bias-related crimes, it doesn’t have to wait to be invited to help in an investigation.

He said the forum should be an important intro to what resources the federal government can bring to confront and prevent hate.

The forum is presented by Cathedral of Hope, Resource Center and Brite Divinity School’s Carpenter Initiative in Gender, Sexuality and Justice.

Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road. 6:30-8:30 p.m.


Happy Black Friday — oh, and the term was meant to insult you

Posted on 27 Nov 2015 at 7:32am
shopping crowds

This looks like fun

Every time you hear, “We open at 7 a.m. on Black Friday,” please know that retailer is saying, “We open at 7 a.m. for the people we hate dealing with the most.”

I finished my Black Friday shopping. We needed milk so I went out in the rain, walked to the grocery store next to my building and I’m home now, soaked.

But where did that insulting term, Black Friday, come from?

I found one online reference to the term dating from 1961 from an article in a suburban Rochester, N.Y. newspaper. Police were describing a traffic jam around a downtown shopping area made worse by a bus drivers’ strike.

I moved to Dallas in 1979 when I was transferred here to manage a store in NorthPark. That’s where I first heard the term used. Store managers whispered the term under their breath. It wasn’t a polite term.

Black Friday, as I always heard it used by retailers in Dallas, referred to bringing out the worst in people.

Black Friday was the day when our regular customers stopped shopping with us for a month and the most obnoxious and rude customers showed up at the mall. The day ushered in a month of horror for anyone working retail, especially those not on commission.

Customers were not only rude, but they destroyed any displays we’d spent hours preparing. And broken items? Torn apparel? Who cares.

Black Friday was also the biggest day of the year for stolen merchandise.

For years, the day after Thanksgiving had been the biggest shopping day of the year. President Franklin Roosevelt even moved Thanksgiving from the fourth to third Thursday of November in 1939 to add a week to the Christmas shopping season.

The term has been used in advertising since about 2000. Here are the only statistics I could find on the day relating to shopper’s behavior:

Since 2006, the most assaults by shoppers on others in stores have been recorded at Walmarts and Best Buys. Overall, in the last decade, at least seven Black Friday shopping-related deaths and 98 shopping-related injuries have been reported.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t do lines, crowds or violent shopping situations. At 6:30 this morning at the El Rio Grande Supermercado in the torrential rain, I had none.


Arrest made in murder of gay Houston man

Posted on 23 Nov 2015 at 5:04pm
Marc Pourner

Marc Pourner

David James Brown, 22, was arrested for the murder of Marc Pourner, whose body was found near Conroe.

Brown may have been Pourner’s boyfriend’s best friend according to The Advocate.

The suspect was arrested in a CVS parking lot in Delphi, Ind., northwest of Indianapolis.

Pourner disappeared on Nov. 12 and was found two days later in his burned out truck. The murder was considered a possible hate crime, since it took place a week after Houston voters rejected a hate crime ordinance. Police have not yet released information regarding Brown’s motive in killing Pourner.

Pourner’s family is establishing a scholarship in his memory to help LGBT students.


New police camera goes up at Cedar Springs and Throckmorton

Posted on 23 Nov 2015 at 4:07pm

IMG_2182 The first of 10 new police cameras planned for Oak Lawn went up outside Italia Express on Cedar Springs as part of police and community efforts to increase neighborhood safety following numerous violent attacks.

Councilman Adam Medrano told the Mayor’s LGBT Task Force last week the Dallas Police Department would install the cameras near the Oak Lawn entertainment district’s Target Area Action Grid.

Rafael McDonnell, communications and advocacy manager for Resource Center, welcomed the cameras.

The cameras provide “reasonably close to real-time response” after a crime takes place, he said.

The police will monitor the DPD cameras at Dallas City Hall. They are slated to be installed in the next few months.

The other locations for the cameras include:

• Lemmon/Wycliff

• Lemmon/Douglas

• Lemmon/Oak Lawn

• Rawlins/Oak Lawn

• Oak Lawn/Cedar Springs

• Maple/Wycliff

• Maple/Kings

• Maple/Lucas

• Maple/Oak Lawn


VIDEO: Protest at DPD HQ

Posted on 23 Nov 2015 at 3:15pm

Here are some video clips from the Sunday, Nov. 22 protest at Dallas Police Department headquarters on Lamar Street in The Cedars.


Protesters at DPD HQ demand continued police presence in Oak Lawn

Posted on 23 Nov 2015 at 11:04am

About 100 protesters gathered outside Dallas Police headquarters in The Cedars on Sunday, Nov. 22 to demand continued visible police presence in Oak Lawn.

Rally organizer Daniel Cates noted that the stepped up security this past weekend worked and no attacks were reported.

The rally was originally planned to demand police protection in the area, but after a horrific attack on Thursday evening and a number of gay vigilantes, each working independently, announcing plans to patrol the area, police stepped up its patrols in the area. The Thursday attack came on the heels of several community meetings with police and photos of the victim were particularly graphic.

Protesters gathered initially on the street corner at Lamar and Belleview, but, with TV cameras following, moved to surround the entrance to police headquarters. One lone officer watched from inside and no officers were present on the plaza.

Speaking to the crowd, Cates thanked Mayor Mike Rawlings and Councilman Adam Medrano for walking the neighborhood to voice concern about the attacks. He thanked police for the response, but noted the visible police presence came only after 15 violent attacks, including some that went unreported.

Cates compared the police response to that along the Katy Trail, just a few blocks away. After five attacks over the course of just a few days, police presence was stepped up and, because of surveillance video, the attackers were caught.

In the Oak Lawn attacks, police are following some leads, but descriptions of the attackers have been sketchy, because most of the men have been attacked from behind.

On Friday, Nov. 20, a memorial Transgender Day of Remembrance rally was held at the monument on Cedar Springs Road. Speakers included attack victims in their speeches. At the Sunday night protest, a member of the trans community spoke, asking for solidarity and protection for both trans people and the LGB community.



Obama endorses EBJ for re-election

Posted on 23 Nov 2015 at 9:14am
U.S. Rep Eddie Bernice Johnson

U.S. Rep Eddie Bernice Johnson

In his first endorsement of the 2016 election season, President Barack Obama has endorsed Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson for her 13th term in office.

In a statement, Obama wrote:

Eddie Bernice Johnson has demonstrated exemplary service in the U.S. Congress representing the people of Texas’ 30th Congressional District. I’ve been proud to work with Congresswoman Johnson to grow the economy through investments in transportation, science, innovation, technology, and trade. Together, we have extended the security of health care to working families in North Texas, and fought for a cleaner environment for all our kids. Her experience is necessary to ensure that we continue on a path of creating jobs, closing the income gap and reforming the government for the 21st century – all with the hope to create better opportunities for Americans from all walks of life.

Congresswoman Johnson is somebody who gets up every day, and works hard to improve the lives of her constituents. That’s her priority. She has the right vision of what America ought to be and she is putting us on the right path to move forward. I am proud to stand with Congresswoman Johnson and support her re-election.


Friday night in the gayborhood: The mayor, police make their presence known

Posted on 21 Nov 2015 at 5:50pm

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, right, speaks with staff and patrons inside Alexandre’s on Friday night.

After an assault on Thursday night, Nov. 19, made Geoffrey Hubbard the 12th person attacked in Oak Lawn since Sept. 1, Dallas police announced a plan for increasing police presence in the gayborhood to try to stem the rash of violence.

As these photos from Dallas Voice Associate Advertising Manager Chad Mantooth show, Dallas police were a very visible presence in the area on Friday night, Nov. 20, one night after the attack on Hubbard. And Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings joined the effort, walking the Cedar Springs Strip and visiting with patrons in various nightclubs.

“Anytime, any one neighborhood has an intensity of crimes like this, you’ve got to take it very seriously,” Rawlings said.

IMG_1814 IMG_1817 IMG_2261 IMG_2268


Mark and Vic make it legal

Posted on 21 Nov 2015 at 5:07pm

Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes, the Texas marriage equality plaintiffs, married today, Saturday, Nov. 21, at a chilly outdoor ceremony at the Westin Greenbriar Hotel in Frisco.

A tent with heaters was added when temperatures plunged more than 20 degrees below normal for the date.

Former Congressman Charles A. Gonzalez presided. He was cheered by the crowd of more than 300 attendees when he pronounced them married “under the laws of the state of Texas.”