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Science  19 Dec 2008:
Vol. 322, Issue 5909, pp. 1765
DOI: 10.1126/science.322.5909.1765a
Montagnier, Chermann, and Barré-Sinoussi in a 1984 photo.CREDIT: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

NO THANKS. Robert Gallo isn't the only one who feels he was passed over for this year's Nobel Prize for discovering the AIDS virus (Science, 10 October, p. 174). Instead of accepting an invitation from his former colleagues Luc Montagnier and Françoise Barré-Sinoussi to accompany them to Stockholm to pick up their award, French virologist Jean-Claude Chermann hosted a lunch for journalists in Paris to explain why he should have shared in the glory.

Chermann, now the scientific director of a French biotech, was a lab leader at the Pasteur Institute and Barré-Sinoussi's boss when they isolated the virus in 1983; Montagnier headed the division. Chermann “taught Barré-Sinoussi everything she knew” and was instrumental in the discovery, says Bernard Le Grelle, a financial consultant who has set up a support committee for his slighted friend.

Some scientists agree. “I don't understand how you can give the prize to her but not to him,” says Dutch virologist Jaap Goudsmit, who was in close contact with the Pasteur group at the time. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who received Chermann at the Elysée Palace on 28 October, has also hailed him as a “co-discoverer.” But as Le Grelle discovered during two teleconferences with Stockholm, the Nobel Committee never changes its mind.

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