An interview with SHM’s new director, Peter Reiss

PReiss_150X115.jpgPeter Reiss joined SHM on 1 February 2013, replacing Frank de Wolf as the director of the foundation. Peter is also a Professor of Internal Medicine at the Academic Medical Centre at the University of Amsterdam (AMC-UvA). In addition, he serves on the Scientific Advisory Boards of the Agence Nationale de Recherches sur le Sida et les hépatites (ANRS) and the Swiss HIV Cohort Study, as well as on the Steering Committees of the D:A:D study, the ART-Cohort Collaboration, and the EuroSIDA Study. He also is one of the rotating scientific coordinators of the EU-funded EuroCoord collaboration. In this interview he talks about his work at the AMC, his background with SHM and his vision for the future.

Can you explain a little about your background and work at the AMC?

Well I’ve worked at the AMC since 1987. I was recruited by colleagues at the AMC who on a daily basis were increasingly facing patients with AIDS and opportunistic infections, who wanted to take advantage of the recent training in infectious diseases that I had received in Leiden, which wasn’t yet a formal medical subspecialty at that time. At the AMC, I started working full-time in the in-patient AIDS-unit. Shortly thereafter, I did my PhD in HIV virology with Jaap Goudsmit and Joep Lange and as the first drug for HIV (AZT) became available increasingly became involved with the field of antiretroviral clinical trials. This also lead to my appointment as acting-director of NATEC (National AIDS Therapy Evaluation Centre) while Joep Lange was working at WHO in Geneva, and subsequently as deputy-director after Joep’s return to Amsterdam. In the 1990’s I became increasingly involved in HIV observational cohort studies through my association on behalf of AMC with EuroSIDA. As the ATHENA cohort got off the ground in the second half of the 90’s this also allowed me to increasingly link ATHENA  and later SHM to various international cohort collaborations such as D:A:D, ART-CC and others.

Within the AMC I now am positioned in the Department of Global Health, which has close links to the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development (AIGHD), and also continue to do my HIV clinic through the AMC Division of Infectious Diseases.

What research areas have you been involved in?

When cART was introduced in the mid 1990’s quite of few of the newer drugs were giving side effects, most notably lipodystrophy. This triggered my interest in getting to the bottom of this problem by reviving a collaboration with the Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism which had in the past actively researched changes in metabolism in the context of untreated HIV infection. In keeping with insights gained over the last years, my research is no longer just focused on the side effects of treatment, but has increasingly broadened to study the contributions not only of treatment but also of HIV itself and the immune response towards so-called non-AIDS complications. Finally, this research is more and more positioned in the context of treated patients with HIV increasingly aging, allowing us to possibly use HIV as a model to study aging more generally.

What has been your association with Stichting HIV Monitoring over the years?

Through the EuroSIDA study I became associated with various cohorts, and it was logical that the Netherlands, in the form of ATHENA, would participate in this and other international collaborations. ATHENA of course became SHM’s national cohort. I’ve always had strong contacts with Frank de Wolf going back to the days of my PhD through our joint work in the field of HIV, and have been a member of SHM’s Working Group since SHM was founded. I have also acted as a principle investigator or steering committee member for SHM in a number of collaborations including ART-CC, EuroCoord and the D:A:D study.

What attracted you to the role of Director of SHM?

Given my involvement in various cohort studies, my association with SHM and the science that SHM carries out, it was a logical step. Another key attraction, or rather challenge, is to increase the involvement of clinical colleagues who are keen to learn about observational cohort research in the work that SHM carries out. I think it is especially important to target the next generation of HIV physicians and to help them in developing productive bidirectional collaborations with the SHM to add to their development, which will be key to securing SHM’s scientific productivity for the future.

What is your vision for the SHM? Where do you see the SHM in 5 years time?

I hope that in 5 years time there will be a more direct involvement of interested clinicians to invest dedicated time and energy in SHM’s studies in a productive interaction with the strong analytic team at SHM. Thereby I’m hoping to see further development of scientific output on SHM’s data on its own, while also continuing to treasure existing and novel international collaborations where so required. Finally, I’m hoping that the state-of-the-art technologies developed by SHM for monitoring HIV may also serve as a model for monitoring patients in care for viral hepatitis.

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Stichting HIV Monitoring

Stichting HIV Monitoring (SHM) makes an essential contribution to healthcare for HIV-positive people in the Netherlands. Working with all recognised HIV treatment centres in the Netherlands, SHM systematically collects coded medical data from all registered HIV patients. SHM uses these data to produce centre-specific reports that allow HIV treatment centres to optimise their patient care and obtain formal certification. SHM’s data also form the basis for the yearly HIV monitoring report and are used in HIV-related research in the Netherlands and internationally. The outcome of SHM’s research provides tangible input into HIV care and prevention polices in the Netherlands.

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