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Robert Gallo


Robert Charles Gallo (born March 23, 1937) is a U.S. biomedical researcher. He is best known for his role in identifying the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) as 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, Robert R. Redfield and William A. Blattner, co-founded the institute in 1996 after intense recruitment by the State of Maryland and the City of Baltimore. Gallo is also cofounder of Profectus BioSciences, Inc.[1] in Baltimore, Maryland and chairman of its Scientific Advisory Board.

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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.

Retrovirus work

  After listening to a talk by biologist David Baltimore, Gallo became interested in the study of retroviruses. In 1974 he identified the first retrovirus in humans: the "human T-cell leukemia virus," or HTLV.

HIV/AIDS research and subsequent controversy

In 1984, Gallo and his collaborators published a series of four papers in the research journal Science arguing that HIV, a retrovirus that had recently been identified in AIDS patients by Luc Montagnier and his collaborators at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France, was the cause of AIDS. However, the striking similarity between the first two human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) isolates Lai/LAV (formerly LAV, isolated at the Pasteur Institute) and Lai/IIIB (formerly HTLV-IIIB, reported to be isolated from a pooled culture at the Laboratory of Tumor Cell Biology (LTCB) of the National Cancer Institute), suggested contamination in Gallo's lab and provoked controversy in light of the high level of variability found among subsequent HIV-1 isolates.

Since then, there has been considerable and sometimes acrimonious controversy over the priority for the discovery of HIV, including accusations that Gallo's lab improperly used a sample of HIV produced at the Institut Pasteur. In November 1990, the Office of Scientific Integrity at the National Institutes of Health commissioned a group at Roche to analyse archival samples established at the Pasteur Institute and the Laboratory of Tumor Cell Biology (LTCB) of the National Cancer Institute between 1983 and 1985. Retrospective analyses showed that contamination of a culture derived from patient BRU by one from patient LAI was responsible for the provenance of HIV-1 Lai/LAV; the contaminated culture (M2T-/B) was sent to LTCB in September 1983.

Chang et al. (1993) examined archival specimens and reported in Nature the detection of six novel HIV-1 sequences in the cultures used to establish the pool:[2] none was closely related to HIV-1 Lai/IIIB. A sample derived from patient LAI contained variants of both HIV-1 Lai/IIIB and HIV-1 Lai/LAV, and a sequence identical to a variant of HIV-1 Lai/IIIB was detected in the contaminated M2T-/B culture. They concluded that the pool, and probably another LTCB culture, MoV, were contaminated between October 1983 and early 1984 by variants of HIV-1 Lai from the M2T-/B culture. Contamination of this kind is common in labs handling viruses, and must be carefully guarded against. In this case, the origin of the HIV-1 Lai/IIIB isolate also was patient LAI.

Today it is generally 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 it causes AIDS. Gallo's group also was the first to grow the virus in an immortalized cell line, leading to the development of blood tests for HIV and the ability to screen donated blood for this virus. Also, Gallo insisted the work of Montagnier had relied on a technique previously developed by Gallo for growing T cells in the laboratory by supplementing interleukin-2. The two scientists continued be at the center of a bitter dispute between the United States and France over royalties from the blood test patent until 1987, when they agreed to share credit for the discovery of HIV. 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 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 as by Science magazine as one of the top scientific breakthroughs within the same year of his publication.[3] The role chemokines play in controlling the progression of HIV infection has influenced thinking on how AIDS works against the human immune system [4] and lead 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 that 4,000 patients in Baltimore and nearly 100,000 patients at institute-supported clinics in Africa and the Caribbean. 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.


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  2. ^ Sheng-Yung P. Chang, Barbara H. Bowman, Judith B. Weiss, Rebeca E. Garcia & Thomas J. White (1993). "The origin of HIV-1 isolate HTLV-IIIB". Nature 363: 466-469. doi:10.1038/363466a0.
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ 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 (October 1999). "Spontaneous and antigen-induced production of HIV-inhibitory β-chemokines are associated with AIDS-free status]". 'Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences' 96 (21): 11986–11991.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Robert_Gallo". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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