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William Halford, Ph.D., (left) in his laboratory
William Halford, Ph.D., portrait

October 8, 2009

SIU Med School Receives NIH Grant to Study Herpes Vaccine

A research scientist at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield has been awarded a two-year federal grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a division of the National Institutes of Health, to develop a genital herpes vaccine.  The total budget for the grant is $400,125.

William P. Halford, Ph.D., associate professor of medical microbiology, immunology and cell biology at SIU, is the principal investigator for the project.

Genital herpes is a very common disease caused by herpes simplex virus (HSV-2), which infects about 1 billion people worldwide.  It is a life-long infection that often recurs in a patient several times a year.  Currently, young people run a 1-in-10 risk that they will acquire an HSV-2 infection before they are married.  The goal of this study is to help develop a HSV-2 vaccine that can be given to children so they have no risk of acquiring the disease later in life.

This is the second federal grant awarded for Halford’s research, which previously has focused on herpes simplex virus 1, a virus that causes recurrent cold sores and ocular herpes.

Halford joined the SIU faculty in 2007.  He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania (2000).  Halford earned his doctoral degree in virology and immunology at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (1996).  He earned his bachelor’s degree in marine biology and microbiology at the University of California, Santa Barbara (1991).