The appointment of immunologist William Paul, M.D., as the director of the Office of AIDS Research (OAR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), appears to signal a new focus on AIDS research by both the NIH and the CLinton Administration. Dr. Paul who prior to this appointment headed the Laboratory of Immunology at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), replaces Dr. Anthony Fauci, the AIDS researcher who has been the OAR pointman since 1988.

Derek Hodel of the AIDS Action Council, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying group, lauded Paul as “a world-class immunologist” and that his appointment represented “a strong signal from the Clinton Administration that it’s taking AIDS research very seriously.”

This full-time directorship will focus the priorities and direction of research by determining how best to distribute the entire Federal budget for AIDS research, an amount equalling $1.3 billion, among 21 NIH institutes. In turn, coordinating committees within these institutes will dispense grant money to AIDS researchers at universities and companies throughout the country. And, unlike past years, the OAR will have an emergency discretionary fund to direct towards newly recognized problems.