2008 Nobel Prize in Medicine

Three scientists split the 2008 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for their discovery of HIV and HPV. French researchers Luc Montagnier and Françoise Barre-Sinoussi first identified human immunodeficiency virus in 1983 and German scientist Harald zur Hausen discovered the human papilloma virus which leads to cervical cancer. From the New York Times:
Of the more than 100 human papilloma viruses now known, about 40 infect the genital tract, and 15 of them put women at high risk for cervical cancer. Papilloma viruses account for more than 5 percent of all cancers worldwide.

The Karolinska Institute said that discovery of H.I.V. by the French scientists, Dr. Barre-Sinoussi and Dr. Montagnier, led to blood tests to detect the infection and to anti-retroviral drugs that are effective in prolonging the lives of patients. The tests are now used to screen blood donations, making the blood supply safer for transfusions. The viral discovery has also led to an understanding of the natural history of H.I.V. infection in people, which ultimately leads to AIDS unless treated.
Three Europeans Win the 2008 Nobel for Medicine


  1. Congratulations to all for sure. Its nice to see other countries win it in medicine. Too bad the committee is biased against the United States when it comes to Literature though.

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  3. While I wish Robert Gallo had been recognized, i’m pleased that Harald zur Hausen was.

    Think about how frequently you’ve been hearing about Gardasil over the last two years.

    If you’re not viewing this from North America, the availability of this vaccine has spurred a lot of interest and a lot of discussion in the US. HPV is a topic that people are somewhat uncomfortable with, especially cultural conservatives, but the payoff for rationally confronting this as a public health issue could be a 66% drop in cervical cancer deaths.

    I don’t have any daughters (so far) but you can be absolutely sure I’d get them vaccinated as a long term investment in their health and well being.

    And one day, I hope to whoever cares that we’ll be able to say the same thing about HIV.

  4. #2: It really does seem the Gallo acted at least slightly unethically in the matter, by using Montagnier’s samples under false pretences. (some mention here)

    Anyway, both Gallo and Montagnier are being quite gracious about it all.

    #1: I haven’t followed the literature prizes, but nevertheless: What proportion of the world’s reader’s/authors (in any language) are from the U.S., relative to the proportion of Nobels awarded to authors from the U.S.?

  5. #1: OK, I’ve seen the reference now. The quotes from Engdahl are rather unfortunate.

    I suspect that what he was saying was not that they were biased against literature from the Untied States – in a follow-up, he said as much himself – but rather that they had seen more good literature coming from Europe than the U.S. in the recent past. I rather think (at least hope) that they judge the prizes strictly on merit, and not on nationality.

    Anyway, I did a bit of a count, and U.S. authors have taken 12 out of 106(?) literature Nobels, not bad for a country with roughly 1/32nd of the world’s population. Interestingly, a large number of laureates from any country were listed with two or more national affiliations.

  6. @#4, anon,
    your links are to a site that basically denies the existence of HIV. How is that helpful or explanatory? Following those claims, no one should have received a Nobel for discovering (or as they would have you believe, inventing) the AIDS virus.

    Your link in #6 seems broken. Could you repost it?

  7. Damn. Must have forgotten to paste it in. I can’t remember where that was, but here are some others:

    New Scientist – points out that the scientific community for the last 15 years has more or less unanimously cited Montagnier’s paper, and not Gallo’s for the original discovery.

    MSNBC – also raises the issue with the samples. From what I understand, Gallo was a reviewer on the original Montagnier paper, and insisted that a sample be sent to his lab. He then “discovered” the virus, but it later emerged, only after sequence analysis was done, that the virus he discovered came from the Montagnier sample. Gallo of course has claimed this was all accidental and occurred because of contamination, an error by a lab technician, etc, but it looks pretty bad.

  8. As the establishment, what do you do when you want the masses to believe a myth of your own creation?
    You give the people who reinforce that myth the Nobel Prize.
    So Al Gore has etched into the consciousness of millions the idea that global warming is their personal fault, instead of it being caused by cosmic developments.
    In the same vein the sterilisation agenda called Gardasil now gets reinforced by men claiming that human papilloma virus (HPV) is the cause of cervical cancer. This is the medical party line determined by the theory of linear reductionist thinking. It does not resonate in living organisms and systems.
    Human papilloma viruses are being found around cervical lesions, but so are fungi. It is the terrain (the state of the body (and mind!)) that determines the microbial zoo, not the other way around. It is Pasteur’s myth of germ theory and monomorphism against Béchamp’s truth of the terrain and polymorphism… Pasteur, by the way, acknowledged on his deathbed Béchamp’s being right.
    HPV is one of the many viruses having been studied and manipulated in the NCI’s secret biowar programme ‘Special Virus Cancer Programme’ that started in 1962 and was a playground for people like Gallo (whom Leonard Horowitz established was on the SVCP payroll) and many others. In fact this biowar program was never truly stopped, today the infamous efforts to create sickness in humanity go by the name of cancer research.

    In cancer one should always also take into consideration the psychological and emotional issues (The New Medicine of Ryke Geerd Hamer, Lothar Hirneise). Cervical cancer has everything to do with chemical contraception and hormone replacement therapy, while cancer in general has soared since the introduction of vaccines.

    Beam me up, Scotty, there is no intelligent life on this planet…

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