The challenge: Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV/AIDS are among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in many developing countries worldwide. In the early 1960s there were approximately six STDs described in textbooks and very little research was happening in sexually transmitted infections. In fact, there were not many medical centers where clinical care was offered for patients with STDs, who were left with few resources.
The work: Dr. Holmes’ career has been dedicated to the study of sexually transmitted diseases. His 45 years of cutting edge research and application of epidemiological, clinical, laboratory, and behavioural science to the study of STDs has expanded the scope of this field tremendously. Numerous clinical trials conducted by Dr. Holmes led to many diagnostic tests and standard-of-care therapies used today to treat and prevent such conditions as human papilloma virus (HPV), gonorrhea, chlamydial infections, and genital herpes, to name a few.
Why it matters: Today, over 35 have been discovered, with Dr. Holmes and his mentees working on approximately 20 of these. Dr. Holmes assisted in defining the causes of many major diseases and through leading numerous clinical trials, has paved the way for many standard-of-care therapies used to treat STDs today.
Dr. King Holmes is the William H. Foege Chair of Global Health at the University of Washington, a position he has held since 2006. He is also founder and director of the University of Washington Center for AIDS and STD, a World Health Organization Collaborating Center for AIDS and STD. Currently, Dr. Holmes is also the head of Infectious Diseases at Harborview Medical Center. Dr. Holmes completed his undergraduate degree at Harvard College in 1959, his medical degree at Cornell University Medical College in 1963 and received his Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Hawaii in 1967. Dr. Holmes has been a member of the University of Washington faculty since 1969, holding educational leadership positions in areas such as medicine, microbiology, epidemiology and global health. He is the principal investigator for the International Training & Education Center on Health (I-TECH), a collaborative program between the University of Washington and the University of California, one of the largest HIV/AIDS training programs in the world. Dr. Holmes also directs the University of Washington/Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s Center for AIDS Research. He has participated in research on STDs for over 40 years in Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia, and the Western Pacific. He has authored over 550 peer-reviewed publications and edited 30 books, monographs, and journal supplements.