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Dr. Luc Montagnier


Updated May 25, 2009

Dr. Luc Montagnier

Dr. Luc Montagnier

Who is Dr. Luc Montagnier?:

Montagnier was born in Chabris, near Tours, France. He studied natural sciences at the University of Poitiers and received his license of sciences from the University of Paris in 1955. In 1960 he qualified for his doctorate in medicine at the same university. Montagnier became research director of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in 1974 and in 1985 professor at the Pasteur Institute.

His Work Before AIDS:

In the years before the onset of the AIDS epidemic, Montagnier made many significant discoveries concerning the nature of viruses, and contributed to the understanding of how viruses can alter the genetic information of host organisms, thereby significantly advancing cancer research. His investigation of interferon, one of the body's defenses against viruses, also opened avenues for medical cures for viral diseases.

His Greatest Discovery:

Dr. Montagnier is best known for his 1983 discovery of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which has been identified as the cause of AIDS. This discovery led directly to the development of a test for detecting the presence of HIV in blood samples.


His discovery of HIV was met with some controversy when American scientist Robert Gallo claimed he discovered HIV a year later. But in 1992 the scientific community agreed it was Montagnier that should be credited with the discovery.


In 1998, Professor Montagnier expanded his research efforts to the United States by accepting an endowed professorship at Queens College, New York. He is in charge of the Center for Molecular and Cellular Biology, where research efforts are focused on HIV therapeutics and vaccines. Professor Montagnier also continues his research efforts in Paris at both the Pasteur Institute and his World Foundation AIDS Research and Prevention.

The Nobel Prize:

For all practical purposes the debate about who discovered HIV was finally settled. In 2008, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Montagnier for the discovery of HIV, while Robert Gallo was conspicuously omitted. Montagnier shared it with his colleague Francoise Barre-Sinoussi from the Institut Pasteur for their work on the discovery of HIV.

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