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Top 20 Most Influential AIDS Researchers

Since the first cases of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) appeared in 1981, many researchers have contributed toward finding causes, cures and education about this global epidemic. The following 20 individuals are but a few of many researchers who have contributed work with varying results, although every researcher on this list has influenced many people.

The following list is organized in alphabetical order by surname.

  1. Dr. ClarkHulda Regehr Clark, PhD, ND (1928-2009) claimed to cure AIDS and other diseases by zapping them with electrical devices. Following a string of legal difficulties and actions by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), she relocated to Tijuana, Mexico where she ran the Century Nutrition clinic.
  2. Peter DuesbergPeter H. Duesberg, PhD is a professor of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. Duesberg has challenged the virus-AIDS hypothesis and has proposed the hypothesis that the various American/European AIDS diseases are brought on by the long-term consumption of recreational drugs and/or AZT itself (see Dr. Fischl below).
  3. Mr. DybulMark R. Dybul, former U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, now serves as distinguished scholar and co-director at Georgetown’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law. Dybul teaches, conducts research, writes and coordinates seminars, conferences and lectures for the broader university community in global health issues such as HIV/AIDS.
  4. Dr. EssexDr. Myron (Max) Essex is Chair of the Harvard AIDS Initiative (HAI), the Lasker Professor of Health Sciences at Harvard University, and Chair of the Botswana–Harvard AIDS Institute (BHP). In 1982, Essex hypothesized, with Robert Gallo and Lou Montagnier, that a retrovirus was the cause of AIDS. The three shared the 1986 Lasker Award, the highest honor given for medical research in the U.S.
  5. Dr. FauciAnthony S. Fauci, MD was instrumental in developing highly effective strategies for the therapy of patients with AIDS, as well as for a vaccine to prevent HIV infection. Dr. Fauci was appointed Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in 1984, where he oversees an extensive research portfolio of basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose, and treat infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS.
  6. Dr. FischlDr. Margaret Fischl is a recipient of the Lois Pope LIFE International Research Award for her work in HIV/AIDS. Fischl, along with her colleagues O’Sullivan, and Scott at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, is largely responsible for eliminating the transmission of HIV from mother to child during pregnancy. Fischl also was one of the first researchers to discover AZT’s effectiveness in treating AIDS patients.
  7. Robert GalloRobert C. Gallo, MD is best known for his co-discovery of HIV. Although the discovery is controversial (see Luc Montagnier below), it is today agreed that Gallo’s group demonstrated that the virus causes AIDS and generated much of the science that made the discovery possible, including a technique previously developed by Gallo’s lab for growing T cells in the laboratory.
  8. Eric GoosbyEric Goosby is the current U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, leading all U.S. Government international HIV/AIDS efforts. In this role, Ambassador Goosby oversees implementation of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), as well as U.S. Government engagement with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
  9. Helene GayleHelene D. Gayle is president and CEO of CARE USA and has a history of two decades in HIV/AIDS with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dr. Gayle chairs the Obama Administration’s Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. She also worked as AIDS chief of the HIV/AIDS division for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and directed the HIV, TB and Reproductive Health Program for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
  10. Dr. HildrethDr. James Hildreth was Chief of the Division of Research for NIH‘s National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities when he and his research team discovered that cholesterol is active in HIV’s ability to penetrate cells. Dr. Hildreth is director of Meharry’s Center for AIDS Health Disparities Research, and is the first African American to earn full Professorship at John Hopkins School of Medicine.
  11. Dr. HoDr. David Ho is noted for his pioneering work with AIDS “cocktails” made from protease inhibitors and other antiviral drugs. Now Dr. Ho is Director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, and he was chosen by Time Magazine as its 1996 “Man of the Year” for his discoveries.
  12. Dr. JaffeHarold Jaffe, MD, previously Director of the National Center for HIV, STD and TB prevention at the CDC and head of the Department of Public Health at the University of Oxford, is returning to the CDC as as Associate Director for Science. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of The National Academies and the Infectious Diseases Society of America.
  13. Dr. KrimMathilde Krim, PhD founded the AIDS Medical Foundation (AMF) in 1983, the first private organization concerned with fostering and supporting AIDS research. In 1985, AMF merged with another group to form the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), which soon became the preeminent national nonprofit organization devoted to mobilizing the public’s support of trailblazing laboratory and clinical AIDS research, prevention and public policies.
  14. Dr. LaurenceDr. Jeffrey Laurence‘s career as a physician and research scientist spans the history of the AIDS epidemic. He has been associated with the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) since its inception, and is Professor of Medicine and Director of the Laboratory for AIDS Virus Research at Cornell University’s Weill Medical College, as well as Associate Attending Physician at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
  15. Dr. LevyJay A. Levy, MD is an AIDS and cancer researcher and an educator in the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and is professor in the Department of Medicine and research associate in the Cancer Research Institute. In 1983 he co-discovered the AIDS virus, HIV, which he originally called the AIDS-associated retrovirus (ARV).
  16. Luc MontagnierLuc Montagnier is best known for his 1983 discovery of HIV, which has been identified as the cause of AIDS. A controversy developed over the patent on the HIV test in the mid-1980s when Robert C. Gallo announced his own discovery of the HIV virus and received the patent on the test. In 2008, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Montagnier for the discovery of HIV.
  17. Dr. PiotDr. Peter Piot has served as the executive director of UNAIDS since its creation in 1995. Under his leadership, UNAIDS has become the chief advocate for worldwide action against AIDS. Currently, he is director of Imperial College’s new Global Health Institute, where he tackles traditional and new infectious diseases, such as AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases.
  18. Dr. PlummerDr. Francis Allen (Frank) Plummer became an expert in infectious disease by studying the spread of HIV in Kenya for 17 years. Dr. Plummer, from the University of Manitoba, is studying a small group of Nairobi prostitutes to discover the source of their natural resistance to HIV infection. He was named Canada’s Health Researcher of the Year in 2007 for his work on HIV/AIDS.
  19. Dr. VoellerDr. Bruce Voeller (1934-1994) was a human sexuality and sexually-transmitted diseases specialist who focused on AIDS. He was a founder of the National Gay Task Force (now is known as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force). Dr. Voeller, who died from AIDS-related causes, pioneered the use of nonoxynol-9 as a spermacide and topical virus-transmission preventative.
  20. Dr. WainbergDr. Mark A. Wainberg is director of the McGill University AIDS Centre and Professor of Medicine and of Microbiology at McGill University in Montreal. Dr. Wainberg has made important independent contributions to the study of anti-viral drug development, HIV drug resistance, and HIV replication. He served as President of the International AIDS Society between 1998-2000.
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