Science Fictions: A Scientific Mystery, a Massive Cover-Up, and the Dark Legacy of Robert Gallo

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9780316134767: Science Fictions: A Scientific Mystery, a Massive Cover-Up, and the Dark Legacy of Robert Gallo

Describes the competition between scientists--including Robert Gallo of the National Cancer Institute--over credit for the discovery of the HIV virus in a study that offers a revealing look at how scientific and research laboratories really work.

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Review:

Science Fictions recounts the most notorious biomedical scandal of our times: the Robert Gallo affair. It is not, author John Crewdson says, "about AIDS. Nor is it really about science." Indeed. It is a tale of behavior most base in circles most rarified.

In 1983 Gallo, of the National Cancer Institute, and a group of scientists at Paris's Pasteur Institute announced their isolating of separate AIDS viruses. The stakes--moneyed prizes and patents, not to mention cures--were stratospheric. By 1985, the Pasteur Institute filed suit claiming that Gallo--whose discovery was actually a dead end--had appropriated "their" virus as his own. In 1992, the National Academy of Sciences agreed, accusing Gallo of "intellectual recklessness" and "essentially immoral" behavior.

This definitive, chilling book is also, unfortunately, a daunting one. Its sheer size--notes, glossary, and list of characters alone occupy 100 pages--and scientific complexity will defeat all but the most determined and scientifically informed reader. --H. O'Billovitch

About the Author:

John Crewdson won the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of immigration. He is the author of two previous books, The Tarnished Door: The New Immigrants and the Transformation of America and By Silence Betrayed: The Sexual Abuse of Children in America.

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