Virginia Kan, MD, Acting Chief of the Infectious Diseases Section at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC), Professor, School of Medicine, George Washington University

Dr. Kan
October 26, 2016

Dr. Virginia (Ginny) Kan was in her last year of medical school in New York City when she saw her first case of Kaposi Sarcoma in a young man who did not fit the typical textbook description. During her residency, she saw cases of fungal infections such as cryptococcal meningitis and esophageal candidiasis that were associated with AIDS. She did her Infectious Diseases and Dalldorf Medical Mycology fellowships at NIAID, studying mycoses and host defenses in the Clinical Mycology Lab of Dr. John Bennett.

In 1991, Dr. Kan went to work at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) in their Infectious Disease Section and became the Director of the Infectious Diseases Laboratory. During her first years at the VAMC, the mortality rate for the AIDS patients was very high, but this improved greatly since 1996 due to the use of highly active antiretroviral therapy. Dr. Kan has devoted her career to researching opportunistic fungal infections, HIV testing and cascades of care for veterans with HIV and hepatitis C. She is the director of the Infectious Diseases laboratory at the VAMC, which provides Core Services for molecular testing of HIV RNA, HCV RNA and genotyping and Chlamydia/Gonorrhea  for DC CFAR researchers. She is also the acting Chief of the Infectious Diseases Division at the VAMC, and a professor at the George Washington University’s School of Medicine. Dr. Kan serves as the medical officer for the INSIGHT trials which has included the SMART and START studies that helped researchers understand the optimal use and initiation of antiretroviral therapy for patients with HIV infection.

Dr. Kan joined the DC CFAR Executive Committee in May 2016 and is the VAMC institutional representative. As the VAMC representative, she coordinates the VAMC participation in HIV trials, helps oversee the pilot awards process, and provides guidance on the DC CFAR’s strategic mission.  She views the DC CFAR as a catalyst for collaboration between academic and non-academic institutions that brings a variety of expertise to the table. Through mentoring and pilot awards, Dr. Kan sees the DC CFAR as a way to nurture early stage investigators in HIV research. The DC CFAR, she says, provides young investigators with support they might not receive at a non-CFAR research institution.

Dr. Kan is excited about several new areas of research that DC CFAR members are investigating such as the new Collaboratories for HIV Cure and HIV-related biomarkers. Like other DC CFAR Executive Committee members, Dr. Kan believes in the need for citywide collaboration to address the HIV epidemic in Washington, DC. Through partnership and training the next generation of researchers, Dr. Kan believes we can slow down the HIV epidemic and bring an end to AIDS.