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Willy Rozenbaum asked him for help researching the cause of AIDS, which at the time was known as "Gay-related immune deficiency."
In 1982, Willy Rozenbaum, a clinician at the Hôpital Bichat hospital in Paris, asked Montagnier for assistance in establishing the cause of a mysterious new syndrome, AIDS (known at the time as "gay-related immune deficiency" or GRID). Rozenbaum had suggested at scientific meetings that the cause of the disease might be a retrovirus. Montagnier and members of his group at the Pasteur Institute, notably including Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Jean-Claude Chermann, had extensive experience with retroviruses. Montagnier and his team examined samples taken from Rozenbaum's AIDS patients and found the virus that would later become known as HIV in a lymph node biopsy. They named it "lymphadenopathy-associated virus", or LAV, since it was not then clear that it was the cause of AIDS, and published their findings in the journal Science on 20 May 1983.
It was not until French President François Mitterrand and American President Ronald Reagan met in person that the major issues were ironed out. The scientific protagonists finally agreed to share credit for the discovery of HIV, and in 1986, both the French and the US names (LAV and HTLV-III) were dropped in favor of the new term human immunodeficiency virus (virus de l'immunodéficience humaine, abbreviated HIV or VIH) (Coffin, 1986). They concluded that the origin of the HIV-1 Lai/IIIB isolate discovered by Gallo was the same as that discovered by Montagnier (but not known by Montagnier to cause AIDS). This compromise allowed Montagnier and Gallo to end their feud and collaborate with each other again, writing a chronology that appeared in Nature that year.
The question of whether the true discoverers of the virus were French or American was more than a matter of prestige. A US government patent for the AIDS test, filed by the United States Department of Health and Human Services and based on what was claimed to be Gallo's identification of the virus, was at stake. In 1987, both governments attempted to end the dispute by arranging to split the prestige of the discovery and the proceeds from the patent 50–50, naming Montagnier and Gallo co-discoverers. The two scientists continued to dispute each other's claims until 1987.
In November 1990, the Office of Scientific Integrity at the National Institutes of Health attempted to clear up the matter by commissioning a group at Roche to analyze archival samples established at the Pasteur Institute and the Laboratory of Tumor Cell Biology (LTCB) of the National Cancer Institute between 1983 and 1985. The group, led by Sheng-Yung Chang, examined archival specimens and concluded in Nature in 1993 that Gallo's virus had come from Montagnier's lab.
Before the 1993 publication of Chang's results, Gallo's lab was accused and initially found guilty of "minor misconduct" by the Office of Scientific Integrity in 1991, and then by the newly created Office of Research Integrity in 1992 for the misappropriation of a sample of HIV produced at the Pasteur Institute. The subsequent publication in 1993 of Chang's investigation cleared Gallo's lab of the charges, although his reputation had already been tainted by the accusations.
On 29 November 2002 issue of Science, Gallo and Montagnier published a series of articles, one of which was co-written by both scientists, in which they acknowledged the pivotal roles that each had played in the discovery of HIV.
Montagnier took Robert to court, claiming that he had intellectual property rights over this process. However, Robert's lawyer alleged that Montagnier had already admitted that he had not come up with the discovery, as he had signed a contract to use Robert's technique in 2005. In response, Montagnier's lawyer said the pair had only signed a "protocol agreement" which was not legally binding. In July 2009, the court ruled that Robert's 2005 patent application was 'fraudulent', because it had subtracted all of Montagnier's contribution, which the court estimated at 50%.
The 2008 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Montagnier and Françoise Barré-Sinoussi for the discovery of HIV. They shared the Prize with Harald zur Hausen, who discovered that human papilloma viruses can cause cervical cancer. Montagnier said he was "surprised" that Robert Gallo was not also recognized by the Nobel Committee: "It was important to prove that HIV was the cause of AIDS, and Gallo had a very important role in that. I'm very sorry for Robert Gallo." According to Maria Masucci, a member of the Nobel Assembly, "there was no doubt as to who made the fundamental discoveries."
In 2009, Montagnier published two independently made, controversial research studies, one of which was entitled "Electromagnetic Signals Are Produced by Aqueous Nanostructures Derived from Bacterial DNA Sequences." Jeff Reimers of the University of Sydney said that, if its conclusions are true, "these would be the most significant experiments performed in the past 90 years, demanding re-evaluation of the whole conceptual framework of modern chemistry". The paper concludes that diluted DNA from pathogenic bacterial and viral species is able to emit specific radio waves" and that "these radio waves [are] associated with ‘nanostructures’ in the solution that might be able to recreate the pathogen".
A 12 January 2011 New Scientist editorial described the controversial nature of the research, while also noting how many researchers "reacted with disbelief", with Gary Schuster comparing it to "pathological science." Biology professor PZ Myers also described it as "pathological science." He described the paper as "one of the more unprofessional write-ups I've ever run across", and criticized the publication process as having an "unbelievable turnaround" time: "another suspicious sign are the dates. This paper was submitted on 3 January 2009, revised on 5 January 2009, and accepted on 6 January 2009", leading him to ask: "Who reviewed this, the author's mother? Maybe someone even closer. Guess who the chairman of the editorial board is: Luc Montagnier."
In 2009, Montagnier became involved in a legal battle with inventor Bruno Robert over the intellectual property rights to the techniques used in the aforementioned research. Robert, who had tried to succeed the company Digibio created by Jacques Benveniste, approached Montagnier in May 2005 regarding his work on electromagnetic signals. In November 2005, Robert registered a patent for the process of homing in on a "biochemical element presenting a biological activity through the analysis of low-frequency electromagnetic signals." This patent was in fact written by Montagnier from results obtained between July and November 2005. A month later, INPI, France's patents body, received a request for the same patent from Montagnier, which was criticized by the patent examiner on multiple points, including the following:
Montagnier was awarded the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.) from Whittier College in 2010.
On 28 June 2010, Montagnier spoke at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany, "where 60 Nobel prize winners had gathered, along with 700 other scientists, to discuss the latest breakthroughs in medicine, chemistry and physics." He "stunned his colleagues ... when he presented a new method for detecting viral infections that bore close parallels to the basic tenets of homeopathy. Although fellow Nobel prize winners – who view homeopathy as quackery – were left openly shaking their heads, Montagnier's comments were rapidly embraced by homeopaths eager for greater credibility. Cristal Sumner, of the British Homeopathic Association, said Montagnier's work gave homeopathy 'a true scientific ethos'."
On 25 May 2012, he gave the keynote address at the 2012 AutismOne conference in Chicago. Similar to the controversy he aroused by extolling homeopathy, his latest group, Chronimed, claims to have made a discovery for autistic children that was sharply criticized by scientist Steven Salzberg.
Montagnier argued that the COVID-19 pandemic was man-made in a laboratory and that it might have been the result of an attempt to create a vaccine for HIV/AIDS. His allegation came after the United States had launched a probe into whether the virus came from a laboratory. According to Montagnier, the "presence of elements of HIV and germ of malaria in the genome of coronavirus is highly suspect and the characteristics of the virus could not have arisen naturally." However this was described as "a conspiracy vision that does not relate to the real science" by Jean-Francois Delfraissy, an immunologist and head of the scientific council that advises the French government on the COVID-19 pandemic. An article in the magazine The Wire explained how scientists refuted his claim. The Yucatán Times published an article on April 29, 2020 which includes the French television interview where Montagnier discusses the splicing of HIV into SARS-COVID-19.
Luc was born in Chabris, France.
Currently, Luc Montagnier is 90 years, 9 months and 17 days old. Luc Montagnier will celebrate 91st birthday on a Friday 18th of August 2023. Below we countdown to Luc Montagnier upcoming birthday.
Happy birthday! Luc Montagnier turns 87 today - Mediamass
Nobel medicine prize 2008 Luc Montagnier is celebrating his 87th birthday today. As a number of online tributes attests, he is one of the most acclaimed scientists of his generation.