Robert Gallo, MD
1990 AACC Lectureship Award

Robert C. Gallo is the recipient of this year’s AACC National Lectureship Award, sponsored by Diagnostic Systems Division, Technicon Instruments Corporation.

Dr. Gallo, Chief of the Laboratory of Tumor Cell Biology at the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD, has been universally recognized for his achievements in pioneering the entire field of human retrovirology. He and his co-workers discovered the first human retrovirus in 1979, which was subsequently linked to the cause of a human leukemia. Shortly thereafter, he and his team, in collaboration with researchers in California, discovered the second human retrovirus, HTLV-II. The discoveries of T-cell growth factor (interleukin-2) from his laboratory in 1976 and of the technology to grow T cells in continuous culture almost revolutionized immunology and were a major technological asset in the isolation of all human retroviruses. T-cell technology is today a major new tool in cancer therapy. More importantly, the discovery by him and his co-workers, with scientists at the Pasteur Institute, that acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is caused by a new (the third) human retrovirus, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and the development of the blood test to detect this virus, are already saving thousands of lives.

Most recently, Dr. Gallo and his colleagues Zaki Salahuddin and Dr. Dharam Ablashi, have discovered a new human herpes virus, known as human herpes virus-6 (HHV-6, also called HBLV), the first new human herpes virus to be found in more than 25 years. Recently, Dr. Gallo and his co-workers have made advances in our understanding of the pathogenesis of Kaposi’s sarcoma, a neoplasm frequently associated with AIDS. The early contributions of Dr. Gallo and his colleagues have enhanced understanding of the role of some onc genes in human cancer and of the biochemistry of DNA polymerases and transfer RNA species in mammalian cells.

Dr. Gallo, a native of Waterbury, CT, received his B.A. summa cum laude in 1959 from Providence College, RI, and his M.D. from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia in 1963. He became an intern and resident in medicine at the University of Chicago before joining the NIH in 1965. He has published more than 800 scientific papers, primarily on the subject of retroviruses. Elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1988 and to the Institute of Medicine in 1989, Dr. Gallo has been awarded nine honorary doctorates from universities in the United States, Italy, Israel, and Belgium, and has received numerous international awards. It is unique that he has twice been awarded the Albert Lasker Award in Medicine, the most recognized award for biomedical science in the United States: the Basic Medical Research Award in 1982 and the Clinical Medical Research Award in 1986. In 1983, Dr. Gallo received France’s Griffuel Prize from the Association for Research on Cancer; in 1985 India’s Birla International Award; Israel’s first Otto Herz Prize in Cancer Research in 1982; and the Rabbi Shai Shacknai Memorial Prize in 1987. Also in 1987 Dr. Gallo received the Lions International Humanitarian Award and the Gairdner Foundation Award, Canada’s most prestigious award for science, which he shared with Dr. Luc Montagnier of the Pasteur Institute, Paris. Dr. Gallo received the Ciba-Geigy Drew Award in Biomedical Research in 1977, and in 1988 shared a second Ciba-Geigy Award with Dr. Montagnier and with Dr. Samuel Broder of the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Gallo has also received the 1984 General Motors Award and the 1985 Armand Hammer Prize for Cancer Research, and is the recipient of two Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Awards for Cancer Research. In April 1988 the Japan Prize for Preventative Medicine was awarded jointly to Dr. Gallo and Dr. Montagnier by the Science and Technology Foundation of Japan. Dr. Gallo and Dr. Montagnier also received the first San Marino Prize in Medicine in 1988.

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