spotlight... Robert Gallo

a.k.a. 'Honest Bob'

"First came God, then came Gallo"
-- Dr. F. Wong-Staal, AIDS researcher

"More than anyone, Robert Gallo is the embodiment of AIDS research in the United States. He was the man who proved that the virus now known as HIV, for human immunodeficiency virus, causes AIDS; he was the man who developed the test that safeguards the world's blood supply against the disease. He holds or shares 79 patents, and his discoveries have generated more than $1 billion in private-sector revenues." Read more about this AIDS Saint.

  • The Dingell Report
  • More articles by John Crewdson
  • Gallo's official homepage
  • See also under WAR ON CANCER and MISSING VIRUS.

  • "By 1975 his [Gallo's] lab had finally isolated a retrovirus from human leukemia cells. [HL23V] Gallo... faced humilation when he presented the finding at the Virus-Cancer program's yearly conference. Other scientists had tested his virus and discovered it to be a mixture of contaminating retroviruses from woolly monkeys, gibbon apes, and baboons. Gallo tried to save his reputation, speculating wildly that perhaps one of the monkey viruses caused the human leukemia. This excuse did not fly, and he later described the event as a "disaster" and "painful," admitting that it placed "human retrovirology, and me with it, at a very low point."" (Inventing the AIDS Virus, p.124)

    "In 1980 Gallo was finally credited for discovering a genuine human retrovirus, HTLV-I, which he blamed for a leukemia in blacks from the Caribbean. But he ran into trouble trying to find the virus in American leukemia patients. At the same time, a Japanese research team reported isolating a human retrovirus from leukemic patients, which they named ATLV. After they courteously sent Gallo a sample of the virus to compare with his own, Gallo published the genetic sequence of HTLV-I. The sequence of Gallo's Caribbean virus proved to be nearly identical to the Japanese virus; it contained a mistake identical to the one made by the Japanese group. Since all other non-Japanese HTLV-I isolates differed much more widely from the Gallo-Japanese twins, some retrovirologist suggest Gallo may have offered the Japanese sequence as his own. No formal investigation has probed this incident, and Gallo was awarded the prestigious Lasker Prize as the presumed discoverer of the leukemia virus." (Inventing the AIDS Virus, p.160)

    "Gallo did not stop with his first human retrovirus. He isolated a second one in 1982, from a cell line derived from a patient... But since that time HTLV-II has been retrieved from only one other patient with a similar leukemia, while plenty of cases have been found without the virus. (p.127)... William Haseltine,... had copied the genetic sequence of HTLV-II, the second known human retrovirus, from a presentation at a science conference. He then published the sequence, unknowingly including a deliberate error planted by the Japanese research team who had actually done the work." (Inventing the AIDS Virus p.164)

    In 1984 'Honest Bob' presented the world HTLV-III, which was renamed HIV later, and which became known as 'the AIDS virus'.

    'The Godfather' or 'Pope' of AIDS, Dr. Robert C. Gallo, protected by bodyguards at AIDS conference.

    "Powerfull placed colleagues have rushed to Gallo's defense... several of these researchers have developed such a close alliance with Gallo that they privately call themselves the "Bob Club." Among its informal members has been Gallo's longtime friend Max Essex,... Harvard retrovirologist William Haseltine,... Dani Bolognesi, a retrovirologist at Duke University (p.225)... Sam Broder, the man in charge of Gallo's laboratory at the National Cancer Institute,... [who also] became known as "Mr. AZT" (p.312),... [and] Howard Temin." (p.402) (Inventing the AIDS Virus)