Note: The following is a re-post of the interview by John Donnelly, “Dybul on PEPFAR: ‘The sky was the limit,’” which was originally published on Science Speaks: HIV & TB News on June 2, 2011. It is re-posted here with permission from Science Speaks.
John Donnelly, Dybul on PEPFAR: ‘The sky was the limit’
Ambassador Mark R. Dybul co-directs the Global Health Law Program at Georgetown University Law Center’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, where he is also a Distinguished Scholar. He is the inaugural Global Health Fellow of the George W. Bush Institute. Dybul served as the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator from 2006 to the end of the George W. Bush administration. In that role, he led the implementation of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the largest international health initiative in history for a single disease. Prior to assuming the post of ambassador, he was acting, deputy and assistant coordinator, and was a member of the Planning Task Force that created PEPFAR. Dybul also led President Bush’s International Prevention of Mother and Child HIV initiative for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Dybul spoke with John Donnelly about the start of PEPFAR and some of the most memorable moments directing it, continuing Science Speaks’ series on 30 years of AIDS.
How did you first get involved in AIDS?
When I was in college, I was trying to decide whether to do a doctorate in theology or English, concentrating on poetry. Then I saw an article on AIDS on the cover of Newsweek, and something inside me said I should spend my life on this. I wound up pursuing it by going to medical school.
Later on you began working with Dr. Anthony Fauci. Tell me about that.
I started as a fellow in infectious diseases. The way the National Institutes of Health (NIH) works is, when you become a fellow you know what lab you are going to go into. I wound up accepted at Tony’s lab, and I did basic and clinical immunology and later some virology in his lab. I also started doing research in Africa with Peter Mugyenyi, and saw his programs and also programs run by TASO (The AIDS Service Organization) in Uganda. When Tony was asked by President Bush to think of what we could do on HIV, I was already working on the ground in Africa. READ MORE »