Robert Gallo

Robert Gallo

Robert Charles Gallo (born March 23, 1937) is a U.S. biomedical researcher. He is best known for his work with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the infectious agent responsible for the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

Gallo is the director of the [ Institute of Human Virology] at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. He and two longtime scientific collaborators, Drs. Robert R. Redfield and William A. Blattner, co-founded the institute in 1996 after intense recruitmentFact|date=October 2008 by the state of Maryland and the city of Baltimore. In 2005, Gallo co-founded Profectus BioSciences, Inc., which develops and commercializes technologies to reduce the morbidity and mortality caused by human viral diseases, including the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). [ [ Profectus Biosciences, Inc ] ] It is situated in Baltimore, Maryland and he is chairman of its Scientific Advisory Board.


Gallo was born in Waterbury, Connecticut to a working-class family of Italian immigrants. He earned a B.S. degree in Biology in 1959 from Providence College and received an M.D. from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1963. After completing his medical residency and internship at the University of Chicago, he became a researcher at the National Cancer Institute. Gallo states that his choice of profession was influenced by the early death of his sister from leukemia, a disease to which he initially dedicated much of his research.Fact|date=October 2008

Retrovirus work

After listening to a talk by biologist David Baltimore, Gallo became interested in the study of retroviruses, and made their study the primary activity of his lab. In 1976, Doris Morgan, a researcher in Gallo's lab, was successful in growing lines of white blood cells known as T-cells. She, Frank Ruscetti, and Gallo authored a paper in "Science" describing their method. [] Morgan and Ruscetti eventually identified the activity of a new T-cell growth factor, which over several years was isolated and identified as IL-2 (interleukin-2) by a lab led by Kendall A. Smith. [Kendall A. Smith, "Interleukin-2: inception, impact, and implications." Science. 1988 May 27;240(4856):1169-76.] These breakthroughs allowed researchers to grow T-cells and study the viruses that affect them, such as the "human T-cell leukemia virus," or HTLV, the first retrovirus identified in humans, which Bernard Poiesz and Ruscetti isolated in Gallo's lab. [] HTLV's role in leukemia was clarified when a group of Japanese researchers, puzzling over an outbreak of a rare form of the disease, independently isolated the same retrovirus and showed it was the cause. [] In 1982, Gallo received the prestigious Lasker Award: “For his pioneering studies that led to the discovery of the first human RNA tumor virus and its association with certain leukemias and lymphomas.” []

HIV/AIDS research and subsequent controversy

-january 1983: the team of Luc Montagnier at the Pasteur Institute isolate the AIDS virus, named LAV (Lymphodenopathy Associated Virus) and publish on the 20th may 83 in the American "Science" the first news on the subject.

-22th september 1983: the Pasteur's team gives virus stem cell LAV to a Pr Robert Gallo's collaborator at the National Cancer Institute of Bethesda, the Dr Mikulas Popovic

-5 december 1983: the Pasteur Institute asks for a trademark on a screening test to the United States Patent and Trademark Office

-23 april 1984: Pr Gallo and the American Health Secretary, Margaret Heckler announce to a press conference the discovery of the virus named HTLV-III, declared as causal virus for Aids. Start of the controversy between America and France

-4 may 1984: the American dicovery is published in 4 articles in "Science", one of it with a french picture of the virus.

-january 1985: french and american studies prove that LAV and HTLV-III are identical.

-13 december 1985: the Pasteur Institute lodges a complaint to the US to prove the priority of the discovery by Pr Montagnier's team.

In 1983 and 1984, Gallo and his collaborators published a series of four papers in the research journal "Science" arguing that a retrovirus they had isolated, which they called HTLV-3 in the belief that the virus was related to the leukemia viruses of Gallo's earlier work, was the cause of AIDS. []

However, a French team at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France, led by Luc Montagnier, had published a paper in "Science" before Gallo's group, describing a retrovirus they called LAV (lymphadenopathy associated virus), which they had isolated from a single AIDS patient. [] At the press conference at which Gallo presented his finding, the image he used turned out to be an image of LAV that had been sent him by Montagnier. [] In 1985, the first paper appeared pointing out the statistically suspicious similarity between the viruses used in Montagnier's and Gallo's research.

Gallo was awarded his second Lasker Award in 1986 for "determining that the retrovirus now known as HIV-1 is the cause of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).” He is the only recipient of two Lasker Awards. []

Since then, there has been considerable and sometimes acrimonious controversy over the priority for the discovery of HIV, including accusations that Gallo's lab misappropriated a sample of HIV produced at the Institut Pasteur. [] In November 1990, the United States Office of Research Integrity at the National Institutes of Health commissioned a group at Roche to analyze archival samples established at the Pasteur Institute and the Laboratory of Tumor Cell Biology (LTCB) of the National Cancer Institute between 1983 and 1985. The group led by Sheng-Yung Chang examined archival specimens and reported their findings in "Nature" in 1993. In short, Gallo's virus was identical to Montagnier's because it came from Montagnier's lab. Chang et al determined that the French group's LAV was a virus from one patient that had contaminated a culture from another. On request, Montagnier's group had sent a sample of this culture to Gallo, not knowing it contained two viruses. Gallo's team was working on a pooled culture at the time; in the samples used to create this pool, Chang et al found six new HIV sequences, but none closely related to the virus on which Gallo's research was based. The authors concluded that the LAV of Pasteur and the HTLV-3 of Gallo were the same and originated in the same patient, and that the sample from Montagnier's lab had contaminated the pooled culture on which Gallo worked. [cite journal | author=Sheng-Yung P. Chang, Barbara H. Bowman, Judith B. Weiss, Rebeca E. Garcia & Thomas J. White | year=1993 | title=The origin of HIV-1 isolate HTLV-IIIB | journal=Nature | volume=363 | pages=466–469 | doi=10.1038/363466a0 | url=]

Today it is agreed that Montagnier's group first identified HIV [] , although Gallo's group is credited with much of the science that made the discovery possible, and to demonstrating that the virus causes AIDS.Fact|date=October 2008 Gallo insisted the work of Montagnier had relied on a technique previously developed by Gallo's lab for growing T cells in the laboratory by supplementing interleukin-2.Fact|date=October 2008

The question of whether the true discoverers of the virus were French or American was more than a matter of prestige. A US government patent for the AIDS test, filed by the Department of Health and Human Services and based on what was claimed to be Gallo's identification of the virus, was at stake. [] In 1987, both governments attempted to end the dispute by arranging to split the prestige of discovery and the proceeds from the patent 50-50. [] In 1994, when further investigations revealed that there was no evidence that Gallo had invented the AIDS test and that the Institut Pasteur had applied for a patent for its own test months before Gallo, the National Institutes of Health agreed to award a greater share of the patent royalties to the Institut Pasteur. [,0,3935882,print.story]

In 1993 the Office of Research Integrity asserted that Gallo "seriously hindered progress in AIDS research" by slighting the French discoveries for so long. [] The ORI had found Gallo and a senior colleague guilty of research misconduct in 1992, but dropped the charges in 1993. []

In the November 29, 2002 issue of "Science", Gallo and Montagnier published a series of articles, one of which was co-written by both scientists, in which they acknowledged the pivotal roles that each had played in the discovery of HIV. In 2008, Montagnier and his colleague Francoise Barre-Sinoussi from the Institut Pasteur were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work on the discovery of HIV. Gallo said that it was "a disappointment" that he was not named a co-recipient.cite news | publisher = "New York Times" | date = 2008-10-06 | accessdate = 2008-10-06 | last = Altman | first = Lawrence | title = Three Europeans Win the 2008 Nobel for Medicine | url=]

In 1995, Gallo published his discovery that chemokines, a class of naturally occurring compounds, can block HIV and halt the progression of AIDS. This was heralded by "Science" magazine as one of the top scientific breakthroughs within the same year of his publication. [ [ the Institute of Human Virology: About IHV ] ] The role chemokines play in controlling the progression of HIV infection has influenced thinking on how AIDS works against the human immune system [cite journal | author=Alfredo Garzino-Demo, Ronald B. Moss, Joseph B. Margolick, Farley Cleghorn, Anne Sill, William A. Blattner, Fiorenza Cocchi, Dennis J. Carlo, Anthony L. DeVico, and Robert C. Gallo | title= Spontaneous and antigen-induced production of HIV-inhibitory β-chemokines are associated with AIDS-free status] | journal="Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" | month=October | year=1999 | volume=96 |issue=21 | pages=11986–11991 | url= | doi= 10.1073/pnas.96.21.11986] and led to a class of drugs used to treat HIV, the chemokine antagonists or entry inhibitors.

Gallo's team at the Institute of Human Virology maintain an ongoing program of scientific research and clinical care and treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS, treating more than 4,000 patients in Baltimore and nearly 100,000 patients at institute-supported clinics in Africa and the Caribbean.Fact|date=October 2008 In July 2007, Gallo and his team were awarded a $15 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for research into a preventive vaccine for HIV/AIDS.


Further reading

*cite book |title=Science Fictions: A Scientific Mystery, a Massive Cover-Up, and the Dark Legacy of Robert Gallo|last=Crewdson|first=John|year=2003|publisher=Back Bay Books|isbn=978-0316090049|pages=704 pages
*cite book|title=Impure Science: AIDS, Activism, and the Politics of Knowledge|last=Epstein|first=Steven|year=1996|publisher=University of California Press|isbn=978-0520202337|pages=480 pages
*cite book|title=And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic|last=Shilts|first=Randy|year=2007, revised edition|publisher=St. Martin's Griffin|isbn=978-0312374631|pages=656 pages

External links

* [ AIDS at 20: A Look Back, A Look Ahead with World-Renowned Scientist Dr. Robert Gallo]
* [ Official biography]
* [ Discovering the Cause of AIDS] , by Stanley B. Prusiner
* [ Robert Gallo optimistic about finding an HIV vaccine soon] - A recorded Interview on IsraCast
* [ NIH oral History of Dr. Robert C. Gallo on AIDS research]
* [ The Sound and Fury of HIV]
* [ Press Release on the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2008]
* [ French researchers win for virus discovery; controversial scientist shunned]
* [ Porträt, Interviews und Lectures] (englisch)

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