Her lab has identified some of HIV’s key mechanisms and she has led and contributed to a number of national and international HIV prevention efforts. These include the HIV Vaccine Trials Network, which is the world's largest network of its kind, and the Seattle HIV Vaccine Trials Unit.
Supported in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, McElrath’s groundbreaking research generates new hope that a vaccine could end the epidemic not only in Africa but in her own back yard.
"The infection rate is on the rise in America within high-risk populations," she said. "AIDS is far from over in this country."
McElrath is also driven to conquer the disease on a personal level.
"As a parent, part of the reason I do this research is to create a brighter future for my son's generation," she said. "It makes my work that much more important to me."