Virus Hunting: AIDS, Cancer, and the Human Retrovirus: A Story of Scientific Discovery

Virus Hunting: AIDS, Cancer, and the Human Retrovirus: A Story of Scientific Discovery

Virus Hunting: AIDS, Cancer, and the Human Retrovirus: A Story of Scientific Discovery

Virus Hunting: AIDS, Cancer, and the Human Retrovirus: A Story of Scientific Discovery

Synopsis

The renowned AIDS researcher Robert Gallo tells his story of scientific breakthrough in a riveting portrait of the people, the politics, and the pace of modern scientific discovery.

Excerpt

In marshy places little animals multiply, which the eye cannot see hut they . . . enter the body through mouth and nose and may cause grave disease. -- Marcus Varro

The Roman writer who made this observation over two thousand years ago was, I imagine, the first person to make a connection between disease and what centuries later we came to call microbes. Though we now know that microbes have been linked with human biology for as long as we have been on earth, it was almost two millennia after Varro's astute guess that scientists had their first glimpse of these organisms and began to record their activity.

Far-reaching scientific advances inevitably await major technological breakthroughs, and it wasn't until 1677 that the Dutchman Anton van Leeuwenhoek perfected a lens powerful enough to allow us our first look into the world of microbes. Though Leeuwenhoek's lensgrinding techniques opened this new world to human investigation, neither he nor any of the many scientists of his time who used his lenses to study microbes made the connection to human disease. a century later, the Italian scientist Lazzaro Spallanzani demonstrated . . .

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