Renowned Indian-origin researcher Opendra 'Bill'Narayan, whose work included leading-edge research in producing a treatment for AIDS, passed away on 24 December following a heart attack. He was 71.
Regarded as a distinguished professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center School of Medicine, he made countless contributions to the field of HIV and AIDS research over the past four decades.
Dr. Narayan began his professional career as a practicing large animal veterinarian in the Canadian Midwest. Having developed an interest in viral infections in animals, he earned his PhD at the University of Guelph, Canada.
After discovering HIV infections in humans, he participated in the development of the animal model of HIV infection that came to be used to study AIDS and HIV dementia.
While at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Narayan developed a multi-disciplinary research program to study the disease, so that an HIV vaccine could be developed.
He extended his program studying HIV disease and vaccine development upon being recruited to the University of Kansas School of Medicine in 1993.
He was appointed Chairman of the Department of Microbiology, Molecular Genetics and Immunology in the School of Medicine at KU Medical Center in 1999.
He was also the director of both the COBRE program at KU Medical Center and the MMD Laboratory of Viral Pathogenesis.
It was Dr. Narayan who adapted an HIV virus for use in monkeys several years ago. This sped up the research process as monkeys imitate the disease's effect in humans.
He was able to test a variety of vaccines, including the ones that he hoped could be used in human trials in the near future, by using 'SHIV'.
In his latest study, Dr. Narayan had shown that though his vaccine did not stop the monkeys from becoming infected with the animal's version of HIV, the subjects did not become ill following the infection.
Narayan was hoping to develop a vaccine that might help millions of poor people around the world fight HIV.
He believed that an easy-to-administer, less costly treatment would be beneficial to poorer countries that have been facing less access to antiviral drugs.