News & CommentAIDS Research

Has French AIDS Research Stumbled?

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Science  16 Jan 1998:
Vol. 279, Issue 5349, pp. 312-314
DOI: 10.1126/science.279.5349.312

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PARIS AND MARSEILLES-- While France was a major player in the early days of AIDS research, being first to isolate HIV, sequence its genome, and--together with the U.K.--identify its primary receptor, there is a widespread perception among scientists that France is no longer on the cutting edge, particularly in basic research into how the virus destroys the immune system. In discussions with Science, AIDS researchers here and abroad identified a number of possible reasons why the nation has lagged behind after its fast start. Many put the blame on France's highly centralized research system, which, they say, lacks the flexibility and dynamism they see as key to American scientists' domination of the AIDS field. And AIDS researchers who spoke with Science generally agreed that the French system stifles creativity, rewards mediocrity, and places serious obstacles in the way of young scientists seeking an independent career.

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