December 21, 2009



CONRAD's Lydia Antolin Retires

Lydia Antolin, CONRAD's Director for Administration and Finance, is retiring at the end of the year after 34 years with CONRAD and the Eastern Virginia Medical School.  She has been in charge of overall grant management in the area of research administration, accounting and finance for CONRAD and all of their projects.  Lydia took some time out from tying up loose ends to answer a few questions:

Q. What will you be doing next?

I still plan to contribute if and when needed to CONRAD, under the capacity of Consultant. My other plans are: to travel around the world with my husband, work in the yard with my husband to have a beautiful flower garden without weeds, continue taking piano lessons so I can play easy listening music smoothly with feelings! (jokingly, so I can play with leisure Jerry Lewis “Great Balls of Fire”), to visit my only son and his family – spend some time with them, especially with my one and only granddaughter, Mia (4 years old) They are in San Diego now where my son Julito (Commander in the U.S. Navy), is stationed on the USS Reagan Nuclear carrier.

Also, I plan to continue taking ballroom dancing with my husband, to activate and use my Virginia Realtor license – part time – see what good luck will bring and to take some cooking lessons from my husband – whom I have been married for 40 years.  I don’t know how to cook! My husband Lito can’t wait to see this happen.

I will get on a physical fitness program with my husband to ensure that we both stay healthy to live long, to enjoy our retirement years together in love, peace, harmony, comfort and best health and will do some volunteer work, and to give back to the community, for the good of mankind.

Q. What are your favorite memories of your years at CONRAD?

I will always cherish the “Happy Hours” I treat and share with my staff (CONRAD Administration and Finance Staff) after each big and major financial reporting deadlines semi-annually, where we celebrate our achievement after weeks of hard working to complete the CONRAD financial reports due to USAID and to private foundation sponsors, etc. After the big deadlines, we celebrate and get energized again to face another deadline.

I will always remember the wonderful times I have with Marlene and the other CONRAD staff on each and every CONRAD workshop I have been allowed to attend and assist at the registration desk, specially the workshop in Bariloche, Argentina 11/89 where I met Dr. Gustavo Doncel for the first time. I will always remember the fresh and exhilarating smell of the Argentina cappuccino. And by the time we were leaving Bariloche, my Spanish language which I took in college way, way back in the “60s was coming back to me.  

Q. What will you miss the most?

I will miss CONRAD, all the CONRAD staff, Henry, Doug, Marlene, Belen, and all the rest of my staff in CONRAD Administration and Finance.  Most of all, I will miss Henry, my best boss, ever! He is the brightest star that ever shines on CONRAD.

I will miss all the EVMS support services staff specially Kathy Shipp in EVMS Sponsored Programs and Linda Harrington, EVMS Accounts Payable Supervisor  and business management department staff.  I will miss Jeff Spieler, Judy Manning from USAID, who are always there to take care of CONRAD and all of us. And specially Jeff Spieler from USAID, who has been with CONRAD from day one – who always shines a bright guiding light for CONRAD. And Judy Manning kept that light burning bright as well.

CONRAD Statement on MDP 301 Results

Main study results of the MDP 301 Phase III clinical trial of 0.5% PRO 2000 gel shows conclusively that the microbicide does not prevent HIV infection in women.  While there were no safety concerns in the trial of 9,385 women, the gel does not prevent infection when compared to a placebo.  These results are not incompatible with an earlier study of 0.5% PRO 2000 in 3,099 women conducted by the HIV Prevention Trials Network and the Microbicide Trials Network.   This study found that women who were randomly assigned to use PRO 2000 and condoms were 30% less likely to become infected with HIV than women assigned to use a placebo gel.  These results were encouraging, but not statistically significant and additional clinical evidence in a larger population of women was necessary for providing conclusive evidence of effectiveness.

CONRAD praises the dedication of the trial participants and the Microbicide Development Programme team for running an excellent trial.  While the results are disappointing, we are hopeful that ongoing studies of tenofovir gel, currently being conducted by CAPRISA in Durban, South Africa, and the VOICE trial of both tenofovir gel and oral antiretrovirals, conducted by the Microbicide Trials Network, will push our progress forward in preventing HIV infection. 

We at CONRAD continue to believe that providing a variety of HIV prevention methods that are female initiated is crucial to decreasing new HIV infections, particularly in developing nations.  We will continue to collaborate with our funders and partners to research and develop these medicines and devices.

Henry Gabelnick, PhD, Gives Guttmacher Lecture at Reproductive Health 2009 - Los Angeles, CA           

On October 2nd, 2009, Henry Gabelnick PhD, Executive Director of CONRAD, gave the prestigious Alan  F. Guttmacher lecture at the 2009 Association for Reproductive Health Professionals conference in Los Angeles, California.  Reproductive Health 2009 is a partnership among the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, the Planned Parenthood® Federation of America National Medical Committee, and the Society of Family Planning.  Dr. Gabelnick’s lecture, “The Challenge of Providing Dual Protection,” drew attention to the increasing need for scientists, government and non-government agencies to fund and develop methods of contraception that also prevent HIV and STI infections.  According to Dr. Gabelnick, "Global figures estimate that there are 76 million unwanted births, 50 million abortions, 536,000 maternal mortalities, 2.7 million new HIV infections and 340 million new cases of curable STIs each year."  Dr. Gabelnick recognized the scientific challenges and added, "Improving prevention technology is largely dependent on funders recognizing that broad spectrum microbicidal activity combined with contraception needs to be funded more vigorously."


European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership - Arusha, Tanzania 

CONRAD was a sponsor of the Fifth EDCTP Forum October 12-14 held at the Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge in Arusha, Tanzania.  The Forum featured political speakers from the Tanzanian government, WHO-AFRO, the Africa Regional Economic Communities and their health arms as well as the U.S., European Member States and the European Commission.

The Forum days were packed with scientific presentations on the latest developments in HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria clinical trials as well as ethics and regulatory strengthening. Results of EDCTP-funded projects were highlighted, including projects that establish Networks of Excellence such as CANTAM, mapping of ethics and regulatory review capacity in Africa (conducted by COHRED), and the recently launched WHO primary registry.  Delegates met with various global partners including Africa AIDS Vaccine Partnership (AAVP) and International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM), The Wellcome Trust, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Enhancing Support for Strengthening the Effectiveness of National Capacity Effort (ESSENCE), Africa Malaria Network Trust (AMANET), European Malaria Vaccine Initiative (EMVI) Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) and Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation, among others.

The evenings focused on regional entertainment and cuisine, including an outstanding cultural performance by local Tanzanian dancers which can be viewed here:  Equally entertaining were the musical selections of the local band, which included John Denver songs, older Top 40 hits and tangos, all of which were frequently interuppted by complete power outages.

Egon & Ann Diczfalusy Foundation - Improving Women´s Health - Szeged, Hungary

Henry Gabelnick and Dave Archer attended the Egon and Ann Diczfalusy Foundation 3rd annual meeting in Szeged, Hungary. Dr. Gabelnick, who is on the Foundation's board of trustees gave a talk entitled: “Biomarkers for HIV/AIDS: the Present and the Future.”  Dr. Archer gave the keynote address entitled: “The Malthusian Hypothesis Revisited” an effort led by Dr. Christine Mauck and Dr. Gustavo Doncel.

The purpose of the Foundation is to support the further training of physicians, other professionals and health care workers, as well as assist them to attend conferences in Hungary or abroad; launch new research programs in the subject of improving reproductive health; support the exchange of scientists and young clinicians; organise scientific conferences and congresses; promote and support informative lectures and publications; organise the annual Diczfalusy Scientific Meeting and to present the Diczfalusy Medal and the Diczfalusy Award.

International Conference on Family Planning: Research and Best Practices - Kampala, Uganda

CONRAD Medical Director Jill Schwartz, MD and Deputy Director of Clinical Research Marianne Callahan attended the International Conference on Family Planning where Dr. Schwartz presented final results from a study on the SILCS diaphragm.  The study examined the potential for an over the counter provision for the contraceptive device by studying 450 couples in the U.S.  Final results concluce that an over the counter provision is feasible. 

Alliance Annual Meeting - Washington, D.C

It was a bittersweet gathering at the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel October 6th and 7th.  Widely attended by researchers, funders and product developers, the annual meeting of the Alliance for Microbicide Development was one of the most productive and collaborative in recent memory and sadly, their last.   

A crucial resource for the microbicide field, the Alliance was founded by Polly Harrison, Ph.D in 1998  to "employ monitoring, research, communication, convening, and evidence-based advocacy to speed the development of microbicides to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections."  Most importantly, the Alliance was a neutral and unbiased collaborator who helped bring together scientists and advocates - all came to rely on the Alliance for the most up to date information on microbicide trials, the Quartely Digests and news from the Quick Working Group.  We are hard pressed to imagine who or what can replace the Alliance and our dear friend Polly. 


From the New York Times, October 20nd by WILLIAM GRIMES

Sheldon J. Segal, Who Developed Contraceptives, Dies at 83

Sheldon J. Segal, who led the scientific team that developed Norplant, the first significant advance in birth control since the pill, and who also developed other long-acting contraceptives, died at his home in Woods Hole, Mass., on Saturday. He was 83.

"Shelly Segal was one of the most prominent figures involved in contracreptive development in the era of modern medicine," said Henry Gabelnick.  "He contributed immeasurably to the field and was an inspiration to so many of us in the reproductive health world."

2009 Publications

Mauck CK, Weaver MA, Schwartz JL, Walsh T, Joanis C. Critical next steps for female condom research--report from a workshop. Contraception. 2009 May;79(5):339-44. Epub 2009 Mar 17.

Mauck CK. Biomarkers for evaluating vaginal microbicides and contraceptives: discovery and early validation. Sex Transm Dis. 2009 Mar;36(3 Suppl):S73-5.

Mauck CK. Biomarkers of semen exposure. Sex Transm Dis. 2009 Mar;36(3 Suppl):S81-3.

Niedbala RS, Mauck C, Harrison P, Doncel GF. Biomarker discovery: validation and decision-making in product development. Sex Transm Dis. 2009 Mar;36(3 Suppl):S76-80.

Schwartz JL, Poindexter A, Wheeless A, Mauck CK, Callahan MM. Safety evaluation of 1% tenofovir gel in healthy men. Int J STD AIDS. 2009 Jun;20(6):384-6.

Suppression of follicular rupture with meloxicam, a cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitor: potential for emergency contraception.

Jesam C, Salvatierra AM, Schwartz JL, Croxatto HB.

Hum Reprod. 2009 Nov 19. [Epub ahead of print]PMID: 19933235 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Critical next steps for female condom research--report from a workshop. Mauck CK, Weaver MA, Schwartz JL, Walsh T, Joanis C. Contraception. 2009 May;79(5):339-44. Epub 2009 Mar 17. No abstract available. PMID: 19341844

Thurman AR, Cornelius M, Korte J, Fylstra D.  An alternative monitoring protocol for MTX therapy in ectopic pregnancy.  Am J Obstet Gynecol  2009, in press.

Thurman AR, Holden AEC, Shain RN, Perdue ST.  The male sexual partners of adult versus teen women with sexually transmitted infections.  Sex Transm Dis  2009, in press.

Lazenby GB, Thurman AR, Soper DE.  Vulvar Abscesses.  Up to Date Review, 2009, in press.

Thurman AR, Musatovova O, Perdue S, Shain RN, Baseman JG, Baseman JB.  Mycoplasma genitalium symptoms, concordance and treatment in high-risk sexual dyads. Int J STD AIDS  2009; in press.

Thurman AR, Harvey D, Shain RN.  Unfulfilled postpartum sterilization requests.  J Repro Med 2009;54:467-72

Thurman AR, Bowen CM, O’Rourke K, Berlanga J, Schenken RS, Guerra FA.  Prenatal Care Adequacy and Adverse Birth Outcomes among Documented and Undocumented Hispanics in Texas.  Texas Public Health J  2009;2:1 - 5.