VIRUS HUNTING by Robert Gallo


AIDS, Cancer and the Human Retrovirus: A Story of Scientific Discovery
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 Virus hunting-as described here by Gallo, chief of the Tumor Cell Biology Lab at the National Institutes of Health-is no lonely ivory-tower occupation, but a rough-and-tumble mix of collegiality, collaboration, and competitiveness. Twice winner of the prestigious Lasker prize for medical research, Gallo has thrived in this atmosphere, but the controversy surrounding his role in the discovery of the AIDS virus and development of a blood test for AIDS has clearly left its scars. For openers, he writes calmly and with a certain pride about his early years, how he came to be a virus hunter, and how he discovered the first two human retroviruses. Explaining medical research in lay terms is not Gallo's forte, however, and the nonscientist may be overwhelmed occasionally by the technical language. The emotional level cranks up several notches when Gallo turns to AIDS and to media allegations that he dealt unfairly with scientists at the Pasteur Institute in France who were also racing to find the AIDS virus. The dispassionate scientist is revealed as a man with a passion for clearing his name, and he does the job convincingly. He also blows away many of the frightening and often foolish myths about AIDS, while delineating what science now knows about the virus and what steps can be taken next. A fascinating look at how science is done in the late-20th century, and much-needed straight talk about AIDS. (Photographs- not seen.)

Pub Date: April 25th, 1991
ISBN: 0-465-09806-1
Publisher: Basic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1991