World-renowned HIV/AIDS researcher Max Essex to give NIU Lincoln Lecture

Max Essex
Max Essex

Harvard University’s Max Essex, one of the world’s leading researchers on HIV/AIDS, will visit NIU on Thursday, Oct. 1, to deliver the 12th annual installment of the W. Bruce Lincoln Endowed Lecture Series.

Essex’s talk, titled “The Pandemic of HIV/AIDS: Fear and Denial Followed by Progress in Health and Human Rights,” will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Altgeld Auditorium.

The event is free and open to the public.

“We are delighted to be welcoming world-renowned researcher Max Essex as our Lincoln Lecturer this fall,” said Kenton Clymer, an NIU Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of History. “For decades, he has been at the forefront of research into the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and he has made extraordinary discoveries to the great benefit of humankind.”

Essex is chair of the Harvard AIDS Initiative (HAI), the Mary Woodard Lasker Professor of Health Sciences and chair of the Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership.

In 1982, Essex hypothesized, with Robert Gallo and Luc Montagnier, that a retrovirus was the cause of AIDS, according to his biography on the HAI website. For this work, the three shared the 1986 Lasker Award, the highest honor given for medical research in the United States. Essex and his collaborators also first identified the HIV-2 virus in West Africa.

With doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows, Essex also identified the envelope proteins of HIV that are routinely used for diagnosis of the disease and for blood screening. Since 1990, most of his research has focused on HIV in developing countries, especially Thailand, Senegal, Tanzania and Botswana.

Essex and his team have conducted several breakthrough studies on the prevention of mother-to-infant transmission of HIV. The studies resulted in guideline recommendations used by the World Health Organization to reduce maternal transmission of HIV in developing countries.

Book cover of “Saturday Is For Funerals”Essex has published more than 580 research papers, with more than 40 appearing in the top scientific journals, Science and Nature.

He has edited 10 books, including “AIDS in Africa and Emerging Infections in Asia.” His most recent book, “Saturday Is for Funerals,” published in 2010 and co-authored with AIDS activist and former Botswana Supreme Court Justice Unity Dow, is written for a general audience and will be available for purchase at the lecture.

Sponsored by the NIU history department and the W. Bruce Lincoln Endowment, the Lincoln Lecture Series brings distinguished scholars to campus to speak on topics of interest to the academic community and general public.

The lectures engage key issues and are often interdisciplinary, in the spirit of Professor Lincoln’s research, writing and teaching.

Lincoln taught Russian history at NIU from 1967 to 1999, while earning recognition as one of America’s leading experts on Russia. The recipient of many national grants and awards, he published 12 widely acclaimed books on Russia, several of them skillfully crafted for general readers.

For more information, call (815) 753-0131 or email history@niu.edu.

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