Scientific Achievements

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  • HIV Vaccine Trials Network awarded grant from the National Institutes of Health to integrate clinical development of experimental HIV vaccines in a network structure and conduct vaccine studies worldwide with consistent clinical, laboratory, and statistical standards and procedures that allow comparisons across experimental vaccines.


  • HVTN statisticians and their collaborators develop a novel statistical method called 'sieve analysis.'


  • HVTN develops an efficient protocol development process which includes thorough scientific, government, community and regulatory review and approval. Elements of this process have been used by other organizations.


  • A commitment is made to ensure antiretroviral therapy is available to study participants who become infected with HIV.
  • A fund is established to help ensure that participants receive ART if it is not otherwise available through a national program.
  • HVTN Laboratory Center develops a qualified interferon gamma ELISpot assay to measure HIV-specific T cells elicited in HIV vaccine study participants.
  • HVTN Laboratory Center validates an ELISA assay to assess vaccine-induced antibody responses in HIV vaccine study participants.


  • HVTN launches HVTN 050 (Merck 018), a global vaccine trial spanning eight countries and five regions. 


  • HVTN scientists develop and validate an assay to measure the ability of vaccine elicited antibodies to neutralize different isolates of HIV strains. The neutralizing antibody assay developed at the HVTN is widely used in clinical trials and preclinical studies evaluating experimental HIV vaccines.


  • The Legacy Project, a program pioneered by the HVTN, is created to engage historically under-represented populations and build trust between researchers and communities of color. The success of the program led the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to expand it to all of its HIV clinical trials networks. Leadership for the Legacy Project is now provided through the Office of HIV/AIDS Network Coordination 
  • To address the characteristics unique to the preventive HIV vaccine setting, the HVTN’s Statistical Data Management Center develops a novel approach to evaluate vaccine candidates for early phase trials that efficiently identifies the most promising vaccine candidates for further study in efficacy trials.


  • HVTN reaches out to colleagues in the scientific community for research proposals to investigate key scientific questions following the release of the Step Study efficacy results, funding and/or providing specimens for over 25 studies. Outcomes from these collaborative projects altered the vaccine design and development field moving forward.
  • HVTN Laboratory Center, Merck laboratories, and the HVTN Statistical Data Management Center conduct a technology transfer and concordance study to further optimize and validate the ELISpot assay used to measure HIV-specific T cells.
  • The HVTN Laboratory Center validates its intracellular cytokine staining assay that allows for better characterization of cellular responses. This assay can be used across countries and regions in preventive vaccine trials and other clinical trial networks.  


  • A novel phase 2b adaptive trial design is developed to use statistical power to obtain earlier efficacy evaluations in smaller trials. Since its development, the model has gained favor by many in the HIV vaccine field over the traditional use of phase 3 trials.
  • The HVTN launched a phase 2b efficacy trial, HVTN 505, in the U.S.


  • HVTN laboratory scientists and statisticians collaborate with the US Military HIV Research Program and the Thai government to examine potential immune responses correlating with infection risk in the RV144 HIV vaccine efficacy trial, the first HIV vaccine trial to show some effectiveness in preventing HIV infection.
  • An unprecedented collaboration known as the Pox Protein Public Private Partnership, or P5, is initiated. Its primary aim is to extend and confirm the RV144 findings in other geographical locations, such as southern Africa, and to prepare a path to potential vaccine licensure.
  • The HVTN establishes three training and mentorship programs aimed to recruit and retain the next generation of HIV prevention researchers to ensure the continuation of scientific advances in HIV vaccine research.


  • A social and behavioral science initiative is launched and brings new qualitative research expertise to the HVTN.
  • HVTN researchers and affiliates contribute to a landmark analysis that demonstrates for the first time that vaccination with an experimental vaccine could put immunological pressure on HIV.
  • HVTN Laboratory Center develops and validates a multiplex binding array assay (BAMA) to assess levels and specificity of antibodies binding to HIV envelope protein.


  • HVTN Laboratory scientists developed a set of antibody assays with high reproducibility that provides a more comprehensive understanding of the characteristics and functions of effective antibodies. These assays were used to obtain many of the informative results from the RV144 vaccine trial.
  • The HVTN Initiatives Program is established to work collaboratively with investigators utilizing previously collected trial data and specimens. The program results in significant scientific contributions that included cutting-edge basic science research and sophisticated cross study analyses.


  • Under the auspices of the Hutchinson Center Research Institute of South Africa, the new Cape Town HVTN Immunology Laboratory (CHIL) is officially unveiled. CHIL is a state of the art facility created to increase the efficiency of laboratory assessment for future efficacy trials, while developing local scientists and local capacity in specialized clinical trial assay technique.  


  • The HIV Vaccine Trials Network was again selected by the NIH to lead the HIV vaccine development effort for the next seven years. 
  • HVTN scientists developed new statistical and analytical methods that increase the ability to evaluate HIV vaccine T-cell response profiles more comprehensively.
  • Results related to HVTN studies have been published in more than 300 manuscripts in peer-reviewed scientific journals. For links to recent publications,


  • The HVTN demonstrates that people in South Africa respond with equivalent immune responses as people in Thailand to the vaccines that showed some protection against HIV. These results pave the way for follow up HIV vaccine trials in southern Africa.  
  • The HVTN discovers that when T helper cells responded with multiple functions to HIV vaccines, this response could predict vaccine efficacy in the RV144 vaccine trial.
  • The HVTN worked with clinician researchers, local communities, laboratory staff, and pharmacists to build capacity at over 2 dozen research clinic sites new to the HVTN to carry out HIV prevention clinical efficacy trials involving local researchers in state of the art HIV prevention research in locations impacted most by HIV.


  • The HVTN in collaboration with the HIV Prevention Trials Network started the first Antibody Mediated Prevention (AMP) test-of-concept trials. The goal of AMP is to prevent HIV infection using broadly neutralizing antibodies (antibodies that can block infection against a broad range of HIV isolates).
  • HVTN statisticians and clinical researchers developed a clinical trial model and statistical design to evaluate the AMP test-of-concept trials, setting precedence for conducting these trials. Stat Commun Infect Dis. 2017 Jan;9(1).
  • The HVTN opens HVTN 702, a pivotal phase 2b/3 HIV vaccine efficacy trial in South Africa. HVTN 702 evaluates a new version of the only HIV vaccine candidate to have shown some protection against HIV. The vaccines have been adapted to the HIV subtype that predominates in southern Africa and includes a different adjuvant (adjuvants improve the immune response to a vaccine).


  • The HVTN launched a clinical trial called the Imbokodo Study in five sub-Saharan African countries to test an experimental vaccine regimen designed to protect against HIV subtypes around the world. The regimen in the Imbokodo Study — called a mosaic vaccine — is a new concept for HIV vaccines. The experimental vaccine contains a medley, or mosaic, of genes from various HIV subtypes responsible for infections in different parts of the world. The goal of the Imbokodo study is to prompt a broad immune response that would be effective against any variety of the virus anywhere in the world.
  • The Imbokodo Study, also known as HVTN 705/HPX2008, joins three other large HVTN vaccine or vaccine-related clinical trials - the two Antibody Mediated Prevention (AMP) studies and HVTN 702 study - already underway around the globe. With four concurrent efficacy trials underway, HIV vaccine research is in the midst of an unprecedented time. The HVTN will collectively enroll 12,200 volunteers in the search for an HIV vaccine over the next few years.