Current Opinion in HIV and AIDS was launched in 2006. It is one of a successful series of review journals whose unique format is designed to provide a systematic and critical assessment of the literature as presented in the many primary journals. The fields of HIV and AIDS are divided into nine sections that are reviewed once a year. Each section is assigned a Section Editor, a leading authority in the area, who identifies the most important topics at that time. Here we are pleased to introduce the Section Editor for this issue.
Ralf Wagner, PhD, is University Professor for Molecular Microbiology (Virology) at the Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, University of Regensburg, Germany. Dr Wagner graduated at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) in Munich, one of the Elite Universities in Germany. He earned his PhD at the Max-von-Pettenkofer Institute (LMU), where he had already started to work on HIV with a focus on virion morphogenesis. Following training as PostDoc at the Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene at the University of Regensburg, he received his postdoctoral lecture qualification in Medical Microbiology and built a team of young scientists concentrating on HIV vaccine development. He was appointed Professor for Molecular Microbiology (Virology) at the same Institute in 2003.
Since then, Dr Wagner has been involved in many different aspects of vaccine research including studies on HIV molecular epidemiology, and pathogenesis and replication, as well as the development of non-viral and viral vector systems and immunogens for their validation in preclinical and clinical studies. He pioneered the utilization of recombinant HI-virus like particles for vaccine delivery and broadly established the concept of RNA and codon optimization for recombinant vaccine development. Several immunogens which were conceptualized in his lab and validated together with partners from academia and industry reached phase 1 and 2 clinical trials, showed excellent safety profiles and induced immune responses supposed to correlate with control of HIV replication and possibly protection. More recently, his lab was also attracted to the generation of novel antibiotics, a new field of increasing clinical importance. He was and is PI and Board Member of several national and international research clusters, such as the EU 7th framework and H2020 program, BMGF (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), IAVI (International Aids Vaccine Initiative), NIH (National Institutes of Health), BMBF (German Ministry of Education and Research, DFG (German Research Foundation), and the Bavarian Research Foundation. Dr Wagner is actively engaged in teaching programs, is inventor and co-inventor of several patents and patent applications, and is author of numerous scientific peer reviewed publications. Furthermore, he also acts as reviewer for various national and international funding organisations.
Besides his academic activities Dr Wagner was Founder, CEO and Chief Scientific Officer (2000 – 2012) of GeneArt AG, a previously public biotech company and now part of Thermofisher Inc. with more than 300 employees working at the GeneArt site in Regensburg, Germany. He was amongst the first scientists to recognize the value of gene to genome design and synthesis for different areas of biotechnology, including metabolic pathway engineering and the development of novel antimicrobial compounds, as well as immunogen and vector design for vaccination or gene therapy purposes, and thus consequently translated basic research tools into scalable technologies and new products. Together with his company, he received various awards including the European Biotech Award (Biotechnica Europe). After the acquisition by Life Technologies Inc., he successfully coordinated the integration process and served within the US Corporation as Vice President of Synthetic Biology. Today, he is Board Member of several biotech companies and local venture capital funds and supports University derived spin-offs as business coach.