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Gilead Sciences HIV Research Interview
Questions

30 Questions and Answers by Ryan Brown

Question 1 of 30
What made you choose to participate in HIV research?
***Note: We do not have professional answers for this career***
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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 Gilead Sciences HIV Research 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."
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