Penn State Hazleton Library features HIV/AIDS lecture and traveling exhibit

The Penn State Hazleton Library will host area native Dr. Gary R. Matyas ’78 on Monday, February 17 at noon in the library for a presentation titled “Prevention of HIV/AIDS: Efforts to Develop a Vaccine.” Matyas is chief, Adjuvants and Formulation Section, Laboratory of Adjuvants and Antigen, at the U.S. Military HIV Research Program.

The lecture parallels a six-panel exhibit from the National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, titled "Surviving and Thriving: AIDS, Politics and Culture" which is available for viewing in the library through March 1.  
The exhibit and presentation are free and open to the public.

A researcher at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) in Silver Spring, Md., Matyas was selected as the 2012 recipient of the National Institute on Drug Abuse Avant-Garde Award for Medications Development for his work to develop an effective, safe and easily manufactured combination anti-heroin/HIV vaccine that could treat heroin addiction while at the same time prevent HIV infection in those receiving the vaccine. He received $1 million per year for five years to support his research.

Originally from Mountain Grove, Matyas began his studies at Penn State Hazleton before completing his bachelor of science degree in biophysics at University Park. He then earned a doctoral degree in biological sciences focusing on quantical lipids and changes in cancer from Purdue in 1985. He performed post-doctoral studies through 1988 at the National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Neurological, Communicative Disorders and Stroke before working at WRAIR where he has worked on vaccines and liposomes for various biological threats.

In October 2013, Matyas was honored for his outstanding professional achievements and given the lifelong title of Alumni Fellow, the highest award given by the Penn State Alumni Association.

The exhibition explores the rise of AIDS in the early 1980s and the evolving response to the epidemic over the last 30 years. The title “Surviving and Thriving” comes from a 1987 book written by and for people with AIDS that insisted people could live with AIDS, not just die from it. Exhibit curator Jennifer Brier, Ph.D., from the University of Illinois, explains that “centering the experience of people with AIDS in the exhibition allows us to see how critical they were, and continue to be, in the political and medical fight against HIV/AIDS.”  The exhibit presents their stories alongside those of others involved in the national AIDS crisis. 

The exhibition, which began traveling around the United States in October 2013, utilizes a variety of historic photographs, as well as images of pamphlets and publications to illustrate how a group of people responded to, or failed to respond, to HIV/AIDS.

For additional information, call the campus library at 570-450-3170 or visit

(Information from Susan Bartal)

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