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Leading HIV Researcher and Holocaust Survivor Visit ALA

In June, we welcomed two world-leading experts to the ALA campus – HIV/AIDS researcher, Dr Bruce Walker and holocaust survivor and French resistance activist, Mr Eric Mayer.

Dr. Bruce Walker and Mr Eric Mayer, with Omrane Ouedraogo (’18)

Dr Walker, who serves as Director of the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard, is a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and one of a handful of scientists leading the work to develop the world’s first HIV vaccine. He was also recently honoured by Thomson/Reuters as one of the best and brightest scientific minds of our time.

During his visit to ALA, Dr Walker shared some of his research focusing on cellular immune responses in chronic viral infections, with a particular focus on HIV. He leads an international clinical and basic science research effort to understand how some rare people who are infected with HIV, but have never been treated, can fight the virus with their immune system. 

Extending ALA’s long association with Dr. Walker and the Ragon Institute, Onyinyechi Ukaire (’12), who graduated with a degree in Biochemistry and Computer Science from Tufts University, is one of the outstanding researchers in Dr. Walker’s laboratory. After graduating from ALA in 2014, Onyinyechi enrolled at Tufts with the intention of pursuing a career as a doctor, however, following an internship with the National Institute of Health and participating in the Atlantis Clinical Fellowship through which he shadowed doctors and surgeons in Portugal, he joined the Ragon Institute to pursue biomedical research.

On this trip, Dr. Walker was accompanied by Mr Eric Mayer, who lived through the holocaust and now travels the world sharing his story. In conversation with students in our History class, he reflected on his participation in the French resistance to Nazi occupation during the second World War and the state of the world today. Born in 1928 in one of the oldest Jewish communities in Germany, he was just 11 years old when his family was destroyed by the holocaust.

We are thrilled to have welcomed Dr. Walker and Mr Mayer to the ALA campus this month and we look forward to welcoming more Experts-in-Residence in the new academic year. Do you know anyone who should spend some time supporting our young leaders as an Expert-in-Residence? Tell us about them.