Spain's top science award to UMBI's Gallo, Montagnier

October 26, 2000

OVIEDO, Capital of Asturias, Spain--Distinguished AIDS researchers Robert C. Gallo, University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute (UMBI), and Luc Montagnier of Queen's College, N.Y., received Spain's most prestigious award in science in a ceremony here tonight. For originality and relevance of their scientific work toward the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of the HIV infection and AIDS, Spain's Prince of Asturias Foundation presented the 2000 Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research to Gallo and Montagnier. His Royal Highness Don Felipe, the Prince of Asturias, heir to the Spanish Crown, presided over the ceremony, which was also attended by Her Majesty, the Queen of Spain. Gallo, now director of UMBI's Institute of Human Virology (IHV), and Luc Montagnier, formerly of the Pasteur Institute in France, were the co-discoverers of the AIDS virus in the early-1980s. For over a decade, each has provided leadership in basic science of HIV pathogenicity and biology.

"I am deeply honored and of course very grateful," said Gallo. "I feel this award is a recognition by Spain of the contributions of many outstanding scientists in the field of AIDS research; Dr. Montagnier and I are fortunate to be representative of this research." Stewart Greenebaum, Chairman of the Board for the Baltimore-based IHV, said, "Dr. Gallo's storied history and more recent research has shined a very positive light not just on the Institute and theUniversity of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, but on the city of Baltimore and the State of Maryland as well. We are honored to have someone of his caliber conducting potentially life saving research at our institution."

Gallo is also known for discovering the first human retrovirus, HILV-1 and the second, HTLV-2 which cause certain kinds of leukemia. Gallo is a doctor of Medicine who interned at the University of Chicago before joining the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health at Bethesda, Md. Before joining UMBI, he was head of the NCI laboratory of Tumor Cell Biology. He has over 1,000 scientific journal publications.

"I suspect the foundation has elected to give this recognition now because it serves as a reminder of the great crises we all continue to face with the AIDS epidemic throughout the world. For this I am especially grateful," said Gallo at the ceremony. There are nearly 40 million people now with AIDS, 15,000 new infections every day, and eleven every minute. Since the epidemic began, AIDS has created some 12.1 million orphans in Africa alone.

Gallo founded the IHV in 1996, creating the fifth UMBI research and education center. IHV has taken a unique approach to preventing and treating virus diseases. Under one roof, discoveries from the laboratory are managed all the way through clinical research and out to a community of patients who continue to participate in IHV clinical research and education. In addition to his role as IHV Director, Gallo also leads the basic science division.

"This award is flattering personally, but also reaffirms the work of our entire research group at the Institute, who are involved every day in our goal to find a cure for HIV/AIDS and other deadly viruses," said Gallo, who this week will also receive the Instituto de Salud Carlos III Medal from Spain's Minister of Health, Celia Villalobos.

Since 1998, Gallo has received numerous international awards, including the Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize, Germany's most distinguished award in scientific research; and the Warren Alpert Foundation Award from Harvard Medical School. Additionally, Gallo also is the only scientist to twice receive the Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award, receiving the basic award in 1982 and the clinical award in 1986.

University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute

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