Michael S. Saag, MD, received a BS degree in chemistry with honors in 1977 Tulane University and earned his medical degree with honors from the University of Louisville. He completed his residency and infectious disease and molecular virology fellowship training at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). During his fellowship training, Dr. Saag made seminal discoveries in the genetic evolution of HIV in vivo. He evaluated isolates of virus obtained from individual patients at different periods in time and cloned and molecularly characterized these isolates to determine the degree of diversity of co-existing viral variants and to describe their evolution over time (Nature, 1988). During the last six months of his fellowship, Dr. Saag conceived the concept of a comprehensive HIV outpatient clinic dedicated to the provision of comprehensive patient care in conjunction with the conduct of high-quality clinic trials, basic science, and clinical outcomes research. Within the clinic structure, he established a clinical trials unit, a data management center, and a Clinical Specimen Repository designed to support the activities of the newly established Center for AIDS Research at UAB. In essence, the clinic became a "hub" for the clinical, basic science, and behavioral science investigators within the Center by creating a dynamic interface between the patients and the investigators.
Since the establishment of the clinic, Dr. Saag has participated in many studies of antiretroviral therapy as well as novel treatments for opportunistic infections. He has published over 300 articles in peer reviewed journals, including the first description of the use of viral load in clinical practice (Science, 1993), the first description of the rapid dynamics of viral replication (Nature, 1995), the first guidelines for use of viral load in practice (Nature Medicine, 1996), the first proof of concept of fusion inhibition as a therapeutic option (Nature Medicine, 1998), and directed the first patient studies of 7 of the 25 antiretroviral drugs currently on the market (including indinavir, efavirenz, abacavir, and enfuvirtide). Dr. Saag has contributed over 50 chapters to medical textbooks, has served on the Editorial Board of AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses, co-edited a textbook entitled AIDS Therapy (Churchill Livingston, now in its 3rd edition), and currently serves as an editor of the Sanford Guide for Antimicrobial Agents and the Sanford HIV Guide. He has served on the Board of Directors of the American Board of Internal Medicine (and as chair of the Infectious Disease Subspecialty Board), has served on the National Institutes of Health Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council, and is past president of the HIV Medical Association. Dr. Saag currently serves on the International AIDS Society-USA Board of Directors, and is a member of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Guidelines Panel on Antiretroviral Therapy. Dr. Saag has received the Myrtle Wreath Award from Hadassah, was listed as one of the top ten cited HIV researchers by Science (1996), and received two Argus Awards for Best Lectures to the 1st year medical student at UAB (2009) and another in 2010 and 2011, and in December 2010, he was awarded the President’s Medal of UAB, the highest honor given at this institution.