15 April 2016

South Africa: A) Meet Dr Gallo B) Stop Talking About Thabo Mbeki

analysis

Dr Robert Gallo, best known for the discovery of the link between HIV and Aids as well as the blood test for the disease, is in South Africa to receive his 33rd honorary doctorate. MARELISE VAN DER MERWE spoke to him about the early days in HIV/Aids research, the Mbeki factor, and whether we can really expect to eradicate HIV/Aids by 2030.

The first thing you should know about Dr Robert Gallo is that he's published more papers than there will probably be words in this feature (over 1,300, plus a good few books). The second is that - perhaps as with many innovators - the answer to what stands out in his career may surprise you. His role in the discovery of the link between HIV and Aids was neither the most challenging nor the most groundbreaking, in his view. And when you ask him about the highlights of his career, he doesn't mention the accolades, not even winning the Lasker Award - twice. (Nobody else has achieved this; it's the US's most prestigious award in biomedical research.)

"I have my own views [on what the highlights were]," he says. A major breakthrough was discovering one of the first...

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