Acts of grace  pg. 2

Hildreth and his colleagues wondered what would happen if they disrupted these viral “lifeboats.” By 2001, they had an answer: when cholesterol was “sucked out” of the membrane by a lipid-attracting chemical called beta-cyclodextrin (BCD), HIV was no longer able to infect its target cell.

Within three years, Hildreth and his colleagues had developed a BCD-based cream that, in animal studies, blocks HIV infection.

About that time, he received an offer to direct a new AIDS research center at Nashville’s historically black medical college. He declined twice. His wife Phyllis urged him to reconsider.

“As I thought about it… to do (my work) at this place, which has been battling health disparities since its inception, became more and more appealing,” Hildreth recalls. “It would be a tremendously powerful thing if even a partial solution to the AIDS problem could have its birth here at Meharry… I felt compelled to come.”

In concluding his lecture to the Vanderbilt students, Hildreth returned to the grace that illuminated King’s life.

“This is your world to take and do with as you please,” he said. “But… I beg you not to become what Shakespeare calls the indifferent children of the world, who would stand and watch as the world falls into chaos… The bottom line is there is a lot of work for us with grace to do.”

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