Who Discovered The AIDS Virus

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On a spring day in 1984, Dr. Robert Gallo stood before a press conference at the National Cancer Institute to announce that he had discovered the virus that causes AIDS. What he neglected to mention was that Dr. Luc Montagnier of the Pasteur Institute in Paris had also identified what turned out to be the same virus. The two institutes had previously shared samples; they agreed to publish together and even make a joint announcement. But when the press got wind of the news, the NCI felt compelled to proceed without the French. "If I could relive those days, I wish they had been at the press conference," says Gallo today. "I was a little swept away." It took three years--and the intercession of the French and U.S. Presidents--to smooth the ruffled scientific feathers and work out a settlement in which both researchers call themselves co-discoverers. "It could have happened differently," says Montagnier. "But everybody has their personality."