The Pasteur scientists, including Dr. Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, who later shared the Nobel with Dr. Montagnier, reported their landmark finding in the May 20, 1983, issue of the journal Science, concluding that further studies were necessary to prove L.A.V. caused AIDS. The following year, the laboratory run by the American researcher Dr. Robert Gallo, at the National Institutes of Health, published four articles in one issue of Science confirming the link between a retrovirus and AIDS (for acquired immune deficiency syndrome). Dr. Gallo called his virus H.T.L.V.-III. There was some initial confusion as to whether the Montagnier team and the Gallo team had found the same virus or two different ones. When the two samples were found to have come from the same patient, scientists questioned whether Dr. Gallo had accidentally or deliberately got the virus from the Pasteur Institute. And what had once been camaraderie between those two leading scientists exploded into a global public feud, spilling out of scientific circles into the mainstream press. Arguments over the true discoverer and patent rights stunned a public that, for the most part, had been shielded from the fierce rivalries, petty jealousies and colossal egos in the research community that can disrupt scientific progress.
Dr. Montagnier sued Dr. Gallo for using his discovery for a U.S. patent. The suit was settled out of court, mediated by Jonas Salk, who had years earlier been involved in a similar battle with Albert Sabin over the polio vaccine. Both Dr. Montagnier and Dr. Gallo shared many prestigious awards, among them the 1986 Albert Lasker Medical Research Award, which honored Dr. Montagnier for discovering the virus and Dr. Gallo for linking it to AIDS. That same year, the AIDS virus, known by Americans as H.T.L.V.-III and the French as L.A.V., was officially given one name, H.I.V., for human immunodeficiency virus. The following year, with the dispute between the doctors still raging, President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Jacques Chirac of France stepped into the fray and signed an agreement to share patent royalties, proclaiming both scientists co-discoverers of the virus. In 2002, the two scientists appeared to have resolved their rivalry, at least temporarily, when they announced that they would work together to develop an AIDS vaccine. Then came the announcement of the 2008 Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology. Dr. Gallo had long been credited with linking H.I.V. to AIDS, but the Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine singled out its discoverers, awarding half the prize jointly to Dr. Montagnier and Dr. Barre-Sinoussi. (The other half was awarded to Dr. Harald zur Hausen of Germany “for his discovery of human papilloma viruses causing cervical cancer.”)
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