Robert C. Gallo, M.D.
Director, Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine
Dr. Gallo is the eminent scientist who became world famous in 1984 when he co-discovered HIV as the cause of AIDS. Dr. Gallo and his team pioneered the development of the HIV blood test, which enabled health care workers for the first time to screen for the AIDS virus – leading to a more rapid diagnosis while simultaneously protecting patients receiving blood transfusions. In 1996, his discovery that a natural compound known as chemokines can block HIV and halt the progression of AIDS was hailed by Science magazine as one of that year’s most important scientific breakthroughs.Prior to the AIDS epidemic, Dr. Gallo was the first to identify a human retrovirus and the only known human leukemia virus – HTLV – one of few known viruses shown to cause a human cancer. In 1976, he and his colleagues discovered Interleukin-2, a growth regulating substance now used as therapy in some cancers and sometimes AIDS. And in 1986, he and his group discovered the first new human herpes virus in more than 25 years (HHV-6), which was later shown to cause an infantile disease known as Roseola and currently is hypothesized as a strong suspect in the origin of multiple sclerosis.Prior to becoming director of the Institute of Human Virology in 1996, Dr. Gallo spent 30 years at the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute, where he was head of its Laboratory of Tumor Cell Biology. A Connecticut native, his interest in science and medicine was first stirred by the loss of his 6-year-old sister to leukemia when he was just 12 years old. The physicians who cared for her made a lasting impression and Gallo would later make scientific research – and the opportunity to help put an end to deadly diseases – his life’s work.
Dr. Gallo’s research has brought him international recognition as well as election into the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine. He has been awarded honors for his contribution to science from countries around the world and holds 29 honorary doctorates. Dr. Gallo was the most referenced scientist in the world in the 1980s and 1990s, during which he had the unique distinction of twice winning America’s most prestigious scientific award – the Albert Lasker Award in Medicine – in 1982 and again in 1986. Dr. Gallo is the author of more than 1,200 scientific publications and the book “Virus Hunting – AIDS, Cancer & the Human Retrovirus: A Story of Scientific Discovery.”