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GeoVax Interview
Questions

30 Questions and Answers by Ryan Brown

Question 1 of 30
What made you choose to participate in HIV research?
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How to Answer
The interviewer knows there are many areas of research. This question is an opportunity for him to get to know you. For instance, if you know someone who has HIV and want to help find the cure, share that. There is no right or wrong answer to this question.
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Top 30 GeoVax Interview Questions with Full Content
1.
What made you choose to participate in HIV research?
The interviewer knows there are many areas of research. This question is an opportunity for him to get to know you. For instance, if you know someone who has HIV and want to help find the cure, share that. There is no right or wrong answer to this question.

Ryan's Answer #1
"For me, HIV research is a personal challenge. I used to work with pediatric patients and one of the most difficult things for me was seeing babies who were born to HIV+ mothers. When I realized how many people are affected, I wanted to become part of the effort to find a cure."
Ryan's Answer #2
"I spent some time working in an HIV clinic. Although the care we provided was great, I wanted to do something that made me feel like I was contributing to finding a cure. I love the feeling of finding something new that gets us closer to a cure."
2.
Do you have an understanding of 'HIV reservoir'?
When it was first shown that triple combinations of antiretroviral (ART) drugs could suppress HIV replication, there were hopes that long-term ART would eventually lead to the clearance of all HIV-infected cells from the body. However, scientists discovered that HIV persists in an inactive, latent form in certain immune system cells. They discovered that some of these cells can become active when ART is interrupted. The latent HIV that persists despite ART is described as the HIV reservoir, and it is considered the major barrier to achieving a cure. Researchers seeking to find a cure for HIV are vigorously trying to discover the cause of these latent cells becoming active after such a long time of inactivity. Share any knowledge you have regarding HIV reservoir.

Ryan's Answer #1
"I followed a case study of a patient who had been diagnosed with HIV. He participated in ART therapy faithfully for a few years and the progression of HIV appeared to slow. However, he experienced some emotional issues and stopped the ART therapy. He unfortunately experienced a rapid decline as the latent memory CD4 T cells became active again."
Ryan's Answer #2
"When I first began to study HIV therapy, the researcher I worked with was doing a study on latent memory CD4 T cells. I was able to follow his research and study the comparisons of patients who participated in aggressive ART therapy and those who stopped the therapy and experienced the effects of those cells becoming active again."
3.
What do you feel is one of the most challenging obstacles to HIV research?
There are many challenges involved with HIV research. The interviewer is asking your opinion. So, don't feel like you have to give an elaborate, 'medically correct' answer. What are your thoughts?

"I think one of the most challenging things with regard to HIV research is that, in order to determine that treatment is effective, patients must be followed for long periods of time. It is challenging because once patients begin to feel better, they don't want to have to see physicians all the time."
Ryan's Answer #1
"I think one of the most challenging things with regard to HIV research is that, in order to determine that treatment is effective, patients must be followed for long periods of time. It is challenging because once patients begin to feel better, they don't want to have to see physicians all the time."
Ryan's Answer #2
"One of the things that is very challenging or frustrating to me is when babies born to HIV+ mothers are not given their medications as prescribed. I believe we would be able to track the effects of treatments and prognosis more efficiently if these children were given their medications from birth, as they should, and possibly find a way to stop the progression of the disease."
4.
While the term "functional cure" has been widely used, do you know why many researchers now prefer to say that patients are in remission rather than experiencing a functional cure?
There are rare examples of individuals who have been able to stop ART and maintain undetectable or low levels of HIV viral load for extended periods of time. A term that has been applied to these cases is 'functional cure', intended to mean that HIV is still present in the body but not causing harm. However, in some of these cases HIV viral load has rebounded to high levels after a long period of being undetectable. Share your understanding of why researchers prefer to say that these patients are in remission rather than cured.

Ryan's Answer #1
"When someone is in remission, it is understood that there is always a chance of a 'rebound' or 'recurrence' of a disease. Some people have stopped ART and been able to maintain undetectable or low levels of HIV viral load. However, because there is always a chance that the viral load may rebound, many researchers feel the term 'remission' is more appropriate."
Ryan's Answer #2
"One reason researchers prefer to use the term remission is that it is difficult to know for sure whether even very low levels of HIV might eventually damage the immune system and cause illness."
5.
If you could choose a research area other than HIV research, what would your next preference be?
Sharing your interests with the interviewer will give him a chance to offer you opportunities in a different area if an immediate position in HIV research is not available. Also, having broader interests implies to the interviewer that you want to learn. Share your interests and why they are appealing to you.

Ryan's Answer #1
"I love HIV research, but I also have an interest in chromosomal abnormalities. If I were to choose a second option of study, I believe I would like to focus on something related to these disorders."
Ryan's Answer #2
"I understand that GeoVax has several areas of research. While HIV research has been my first choice, I am not opposed to 'spreading my wings' and learning to navigate through another area. If I were to have a second choice, I believe I would choose stem cell research. I believe there is so much more to learn about the benefits of stem cell use and would love to have a chance to be a part of that."
6.
Do you have any experience studying the effects of ART on the reduction or prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV?
One study has evaluated whether early ART can lead to remissions or cures in newborns who acquired HIV because their mothers did not receive ART to prevent mother-to-child transmission (MTCT), or because MTCT was inadequate. Share your thoughts or experience on this subject.

Ryan's Answer #1
"When I first began studying MTCT, I researched the case of 'the Mississippi Baby, a child who was initially thought cured of HIV infection but experienced a rebound of viral load after 27 months off ART. I believe encouraging mothers to continue ART throughout pregnancy and administering medications to their newborns can help slow or stall the infection while we continue to work toward finding a cure."
Ryan's Answer #2
"I am currently following a case study that is comparing the differences between mothers who were on ART therapy during pregnancy and those who did not maintain a consistent therapy to see the percentages of babies that were born of those pregnancy HIV+. The numbers are staggering and often leaves us questioning why someone would ever choose not to participate in a therapy that could possibly slow or stall the progression of their own infection and possibly lower the chances of their child being born infected."
7.
GeoVax understands that some change is inevitable. However, our objective is find researchers who want to build a long-term career with us. Do you anticipate any significant changes in your life within the next 2-3 years?
Knowing what goals you have and any changes you anticipate in your life will give the interviewer an opportunity to evaluate two things: 1. what positions are available that won't disrupt your plans and, 2. are you interested in having a long-term relationship within the company? Change is good and growth is encouraged. However, because employers invest time and money in training new employees, they prefer that they have a plan to stay for the long-term. Nevertheless, if you do not plan on staying in the same place for an extended period of time, it is best to be honest in the beginning rather than risking a poor job reference later.

Ryan's Answer #1
"I am very interested in finding a place where I can grow and possibly have room for advancement. I understand that some projects at GeoVax are being conducted on a short-term or trial basis, and I would be willing to participate in those and earn my way to a more stationary role here."
Ryan's Answer #2
"For example: "I recently became engaged. Although we have not set a date yet, we have agreed to wait twelve months before the marriage. My fiance' just passed the Bar exam here and has been offered an opportunity to join an existing law firm. Presently, our plans are to stay where we are and build a career, not just work a job. Also, we do not plan on having children for at least two years after our marriage. We both feel that being able to become established in our careers and save for our future would be the responsible thing to do before starting a family."
8.
Many research studies aim to recruit patients to participate in trials focused on depleting the HIV reservoir. Are you familiar with any such trials?
HIV medicines reduce the amount of HIV in the body (the viral load) by preventing the virus from multiplying. A latent HIV reservoir is a group of immune cells in the body that are infected with HIV but are not actively producing new HIV. Many studies have shown that starting ART as soon as possible after HIV infection occurs greatly limits the size of the HIV reservoir that is formed. Because of this finding, researchers are now hopeful that there may be a way to deplete the HIV reservoir completely which would mean there would be no latent cells; no latent cells means no new growth of infection. If you have knowledge of these trials, share it. If you do not, express an interest in learning.

Ryan's Answer #1
"I have studied some about the effects of early ART on the HIV reservoir. These trials sounds like an exciting next step in finding a cure. I would love to hear more and be a part of the study if there is an open opportunity."
Ryan's Answer #2
"I have heard about some of these trials but have not yet had a chance to follow any of them personally. With what I do know about how the HIV reservoir is created and the chances of latent cells becoming active again, I would be interested in delving deeper into the subject of reservoir depletion and assist with one of these trials."
9.
Some of the projects at GeoVax require travel. Would you be interested in a position that requires travel?
Many times candidates feel like they have to give an answer that the interviewer would choose. For instance, when being asked a question like this one, some candidates will answer 'yes' just so they won't be overlooked for any open position. Interviewers are not looking for you to give an answer that does not reflect what you really want. Notice the questions says 'some projects'. If you like to travel, that's great. If you don't or feel like that would not be the best option for you, say so.

Ryan's Answer #1
"While I love to travel, I have two small children and prefer to have a position with little to no overnight stays. Nevertheless, I am very interested in working with GeoVax and would be willing to work a travel position until a more stationary opportunity becomes available."
Ryan's Answer #2
"I love to travel. One thing I enjoy about traveling for work is getting to experience working with people from different areas and gleaning from their knowledge. I believe anything we can do to add value to one another is adding value to our research."
10.
Have you ever heard of the 'kick and kill' approach with regard to cell depletion?
Interviewers do not expect you have a perfect understanding of every trial or every bit of information that is available. If you are asking about something that you are not familiar with, say so, but show an interest in learning. This tells the interviewer that you are not intimidated by those who may know a little more than you and that you are willing to learn, which is what research is about.

Ryan's Answer #1
"I have heard the term 'kick and kill' but I am not really familiar with what it involves. If time allows, I would love to hear some information about it."
Ryan's Answer #2
"I have recently heard about the 'kick and kill approach.' If my understanding is correct, this is a one-two combination of activating latent HIV infected cells followed by targeting the infected cells for elimination. If this is successful, it could lead to some great advances in curing HIV."
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