News & CommentAIDS Research

The Twin Icons of French AIDS Research

Science  16 Jan 1998:
Vol. 279, Issue 5349, pp. 313
DOI: 10.1126/science.279.5349.313

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PARIS-- Ask the average French person to identify France's leading AIDS researcher, and one name is likely to come up immediately: virologist Luc Montagnier of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, spokesperson for the group of physicians and scientists that first isolated HIV. But ask a French AIDS researcher to name the most important figure in HIV research, and you are likely to hear a different name: virologist Jean-Paul Lévy, director of the government's primary AIDS funding agency. Yet, ironically, members of the original AIDS research team say it was Lévy's unwillingness to take the helm of AIDS research during the early days of the epidemic that paved the way for Montagnier's rise to fame.