How Dr. Gallo Won the World Health Award
(SPARK- OF- LIGHT) - It seems that it has been whitewashed out of history that in 1990 a powerful Congressional Investigative Sub-Committee under Representative John Dingell launched a major inquiry into Dr. Robert Gallo’s research on HIV to see if he had proved his virus caused AIDS – or had stolen a French virus as alleged by the Institut Pasteur -with the final result that Gallo’s own HIV research was trashed and he officially lost his credit for having discovered HIV, only escaping on a technicality being indicted for criminal fraud in his patent application for the HIV Test.
Dr. Robert Gallo
Gallo had documented his claim to have found HIV in several scientific papers. These are 4 in number, all published in early May 1984 in the same issue of the Science journal. All were co-authored by Dr. Robert Gallo and his team. These document his claim to have found and isolated the AIDS virus first in 1982.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the employers of Dr. Gallo, then immediately followed suite by launching its own Inquiry under its Office of Scientific Integrity (OSI), supervised by the Richards Panel of scientists nominated by the US National Academy of Science and Institute of Medicine.
In 1991 the Inspector General of the Department of Health began a separate investigation into whether Gallo should be indicted for lying in his application for patent rights to the HIV Blood Test, and the Department of Health replaced the OSI inquiry, after allegations that the NIH had been shredding key evidence, with one of its own, run by the Office of Research Integrity (ORI).
The ORI was the first to report. It found Gallo guilty of multiple deceptions. In 1993 it drew up a powerful indictment (Offer of Proof) that it presented to the Department of Health’s ’Research Integrity Adjudication Panel’.
§ ‘Research process can proceed with confidence only if scientists can assume that the previously reported facts on which their work is based are correct. If the bricks are in fact false…then the scientific wall of truth may crumble…Such actions threaten the very integrity of the scientific process.’
§ ‘In light of the groundbreaking nature of this research and its profound public health implications, ORI believes that the careless and unacceptable keeping of research records…reflects irresponsible laboratory management that has permanently impaired the ability to retrace the important steps taken. ‘
§ [This] ‘put the public health at risk and, at the minimum, severely undermined the ability of the scientific community to reproduce and/or verify the efforts of the LTCB [Gallo's 'Laboratory for Tumor Cell Biology'] in isolating and growing the AIDS virus.’
§ ‘Gallo’s failings as a Lab Chief are evidenced in the Popovic Science paper, a paper conspicuously lacking in significant primary data and fraught with false and erroneous statements.’ (This is the paper on which the HIV Test patent was based.)
§ Gallo ‘repeatedly misrepresents distorts and suppresses data in such a way as to enhance his own claim to priority and primacy in AIDS research.’
§ ‘The [lead] Science paper contains numerous falsifications… the paper was replete with at least 22 incorrect statements concerning LTCB research, at least 11 of which were falsifications amounting to serious deviations from accepted standards for conducting and reporting evidence.’
§ ‘The absence of virtually any assay data for the parent cell line is simply unbelievable. [Especially since this was] used to develop and patent the HIV antibody blood test.’
§ Gallo, ‘in violation of all research protocols, impeded scientists wanting to follow up on his research … imposed on others the condition that they did not try to repeat his work.’
But despite the ORI supporting this with the testimony of over 100 scientists, the Panel (made up by lawyers, not scientists) decided that Popovic and Gallo were innocent since the ‘intent to deceive’ was not proved. (Dr. Mikulos Popovic was Gallo’s chief investigative scientist and had co-signed all the science papers.)
But then came a report from the Secret Service, the body in charge of the security of the US president. They had been asked by the Congressional Investigation to examine the laboratory records tabled before the inquiries by Robert Gallo. They did so and found that many were tampered with prior to being presented as evidence. They traced indentations in their paper revealing that several were altered on the same day, despite them all having different dates on them. This was clear evidence of criminal fraud, or so they thought. They took it to the State Attorney General – but he ruled that too much time had passed since the alleged crime – and that Gallo was now protected by the Statute of Limitations. Thus he escaped criminal proceedings by the skin of his teeth.
Then the Inspector General issued a highly critical report, saying that there was little evidence for the existence of Gallo’s HIV – and that it was doubtful that his claimed experiments were ever done. He damned the research on which the HIV tests were based. An immediate settlement was now made with the French. It was acknowledged by the NIH that the Institut Pasteur had found HIV first and was due loyalties for the HIV Test. Compensation was paid – and Gallo left the NIH shortly afterwards.
At the end of 1994 the Congressional Inquiry issued a final ‘Staff Report’, summing up what had been discovered by the various investigations. Among its conclusions were:
For more on this article go to Spark-of-Light.org.
Related articles can be found at OMSJ.org and semmelweis.org.