Current Research at the Foundation

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Bedford Research Foundation (formerly Duncan Holly) was founded and incorporated in 1996 by Dr. Ann Kiessling, a scientist with more than thirty years of research experience. The current clinical laboratory was established in 1998 in Davis Square, Somerville, Massachusetts (we’ve now moved!). Dr. Kiessling has pioneered several areas of research in reproductive biology and semen transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the virus which causes AIDS. While in graduate school in the 1970’s, Dr. Kiessling studied the life cycle of the family of viruses (“retroviruses”) of which the AIDS virus is a member.

The life cycle of retroviruses is so unusual and unique, that the Nobel Laureate, Dr. Howard Temin, postulated a more fundamental role in biology for some of the viral processes. Dr. Kiessling began studies of mouse embryos to test Dr. Temin’s hypothesis more than 30 years ago. She continues to pursue her dual research interests in reproductive biology and retrovirus infections.

Bedford Research Foundation was founded to satisfy the need for a research and development clinical laboratory that could facilitate technology transfer from basic science discoveries to clinical test applications. The first need fulfilled was the application of safe ways to handle and analyze semen from men infected with HIV. Methods originally developed with support from federal grants led to the patented process (#5,618,664) which Foundation scientists currently apply to help diagnose male reproductive tract disorders. Methods for testing and preserving semen from men with HIV disease were developed with support from Bedford Research Foundation in the late 1990’s. Those methods are now used by Foundation scientists and have assisted dozens of HIV infected men seeking to parent without transmitting their disease to their wives or babies.

The broad expertise in testing semen specimens has led to the development of additional tests that may provide valuable information about overall men’s health. A current focus is detection of bacteria in semen by molecular biology methods instead of standard laboratory culture. Studies to date reveal that semen contains bacteria not previously identified. Such studies hold the promise of developing new tests for the health of semen producing organs such as the prostate, which is a site of significant disease in men, including infection (prostatitis) and cancer.

All Bedford Research Foundation revenues are applied to research and development.