The members of the Interdisciplinary Committee have chosen Dr. Montaner as the winner of this year’s World Award of Science for his relentless advancements in the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS since the early 1980s. Over the years he has shown immense leadership and innovation in establishing new directions for HIV/AIDS strategies, with far-reaching repercussions worldwide.
Dr. Montaner has pioneered the life-saving concept of “treatment as prevention,” which aims to dramatically increase testing and treatment for HIV using the best available diagnostic tools and medications. He recently published a landmark study in The Lancet, which showed that the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) dramatically reduces the likelihood of HIV transmission. At the recently concluded IAS conference in Vienna, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) cited the study findings as the basis for their radical new approach to HIV treatment dubbed “Treatment 2.0.”
“I am deeply honoured to receive this prestigious award,” said Dr. Montaner. “I share this recognition with my colleagues at the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, whose dedication towards their work continues to help create and refine new approaches to HIV and AIDS treatment, the government of British Columbia, St. Paul’s Hospital and the University of British Columbia. I also share this award with my peers in the healthcare and research community who have inspired and influenced me throughout my career.”
The “Albert Einstein” World Award of Science was created as a means of recognition to those persons who have accomplished scientific and technological achievements which have brought progress to science and benefit to mankind.
Dr. Julio Montaner (MD, FRCPC) is Director of the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE), Professor of Medicine and Chair in AIDS Research at the University of British Columbia,and past President of the 14,000-member, Geneva-based International AIDS Society (IAS).
After graduating as a physician in his native Argentina, Dr. Julio Montaner moved to Canada, where he soon embarked on AIDS research at the University of British Columbia and St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver.
Dr. Montaner has over 25 years of experience in HIV/AIDS research and developing and conducting HIV-related clinical trials. As a result of Dr. Montaner´s early research, severe forms of AIDS-related Pneumocystis pneumonia became fully treatable and preventable.
In the mid-1990s, he played a key role in establishing the efficacy of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), an effective treatment that has turned HIV infection into a chronic but manageable condition and dramatically increased the life expectancy of patients with HIV. Since 1996, HAART has been recognized as the international standard of care for people with HIV.
His work has also focused on facilitating access to treatment by hard-to-reach populations and those infected with highly resistant HIV.
Over the last several years, Dr. Montaner has pioneered the concept of “treatment as prevention.” It advocates for the immediate treatment of all clinically eligible people with HIV in order to minimize AIDS related morbidity and mortality, as well as HIV transmission. Dr. Montaner’s research has shown that HAART dramatically reduces the likelihood of HIV transmission. More recently, he published a landmark paper in The Lancet demonstrating the preventive benefit of HAART expansion in British Columbia.
Based on these results, the government of British Columbia funded a $48-million pilot initiative aimed at further expanding HAART coverage in the province, focusing on certain hard-to-reach populations such as sex workers and people who use injection drugs. The initiative, known as Seek and Treat for the Optimal Prevention of HIV/AIDS (STOP HIV/AIDS), is a ground-breaking strategy central to the BC-CfE’s work in turning the tide against HIV/AIDS. The Seek and Treat strategy is becoming recognized worldwide as an effective approach against HIV/AIDS.
In 2009, he was inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Canada’s most prestigious scholarly organization. In 2010, Dr. Montaner was named to the Order of British Columbia, the highest honour that British Columbia can bestow on individuals in the province.
Dr. Montaner has published extensively on respiratory complications of HIV and the use of antiretroviral therapies, and has authored more than 400 scientific publications on HIV/AIDS. He is also a renowned speaker at important international events.
Dr. Montaner´s pioneering work for the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS has directly contributed to the survival and dignity of people living with the disease worldwide. It is for these achievements that he has been selected by the World Cultural Council as the winner of this year’s “ALBERT EINSTEIN” World Award for Science.