Robert Gallo, MD, The Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine, co-founder and director of the Institute Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and co-founder and Chair of the Scientific Leadership Board of the Global Virus Network, was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award by the University of Chicago Medical & Biological Sciences Alumni Association (UChicago MBSAA) for his lifetime achievements. Honorees will participate in a panel discussion on May 10 and will be presented the award on May 21 at the Hyde Parke campus.
“Being at the University of Chicago was a great inspiration for me by being so surrounded by excellence and by mentors who delighted in helping the beginning physician-scientist,” said Robert C. Gallo, MD, ’65. “I will never forget those days which deeply impacted my entire career. Obviously, I am honored and grateful to receive this recognition.”
“The University of Chicago uniquely nurtured scientific discovery in Dr. Gallo's training in the practice of medicine,” said I. David Goldman, MD, ’62, Susan Fischer Chair, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Director Emeritus, Albert Einstein Cancer Center. “This was followed by the National Cancer Institute's recognition of the extraordinary talent and passion of a young physician-scientist providing Dr. Gallo with the freedom and resources to go on to make seminal discoveries on the biology of retroviruses and human T-cells that culminated in unraveling the causation of human T-cell leukemia and AIDS.” Dr. Goldman is a former resident of the University of Chicago.
“The UChicago MBSAA takes great pride in recognizing our alumni who, through their work, have made significant contributions to the biological sciences and medicine,” said Mark R. Aschliman, MD, '80, Chair, Alumni Awards Committee.
Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Maryland Baltimore, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said, “My sincerest congratulations to Dr. Robert Gallo for receiving this prestigious award from one of our most preeminent academic medical institutions. Dr. Gallo is a world-renowned scientist whose breakthrough discoveries and scholarly contributions have made major contributions to global health for more than four decades. He is a visionary investigator who has unlocked many important mysteries of human viruses and diseases. He embodies all of the attributes of what it means to be a great scientist. We have been fortunate to have him as one of our most distinguished members of the University of Maryland School of Medicine faculty for many years. He has led our Institute of Human Virology, which has been transformative in its work to eradicate chronic and deadly viral and immune disorders. He is most deserving of this honor from the University of Chicago Medical Alumni Association.”
Dr. Gallo graduated from Thomas Jefferson University School of Medicine before completing his medical training at the University of Chicago. After 30 years at the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, he became the co-founder of the Institute of Human Virology and the founding director and The Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. In 2011, Dr. Gallo became the Co-Founder and Chair of the Scientific Leadership Board to the Global Virus Network.
Dr. Gallo’s career interests have focused on studying the basic biology of human blood cells, their normal and abnormal growth, and the involvement of viruses in these abnormalities.
Dr. Gallo and his co-workers pioneered human retrovirology, discovering the first human retrovirus (HTLV-1) and, along with others, showing it was a cause of a particular form of human leukemia. A year later, he and his group discovered the second known human retrovirus (HTLV-2). Dr. Gallo and his colleagues independently discovered HIV and provided the first results to show it was the cause of AIDS. They also developed a lifesaving HIV blood test. In 1986, he and his co-workers discovered the first new human herpes in more than 25 years, Human Herpes Virus-6 (HHV-6). Previously in 1978, Gallo discovered a variant of gibbon ape leukemia virus—Hall’s Island strain—which causes T-cell leukemia.
Dr. Gallo and his co-workers discovered Interleukin-2 in 1976, thus setting the stage for all groups to culture human T-cells. Gallo and his co-workers spent years developing detailed biochemical and immunological characteristics of human cellular DNA polymerases alpha, beta, and gamma and reverse transcriptase (RT) from several retroviruses to use RT as a sensitive and specific surrogate marker for retroviruses.
In 1995 he and his colleagues discovered the first natural (endogenous) inhibitors of HIV, which led to the discovery of the HIV co-receptor, CCR5, and opened new approaches to treatment. Currently, Dr. Gallo and his team have been working on a HIV preventive vaccine candidate.
Dr. Gallo has received 35 honorary doctorates from universities around the world. He was the most cited scientist from 1980 to 1990 and was ranked third in the world for scientific impact from 1983 to 2002, publishing nearly 1,300 papers.
Dr. Gallo is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine and has received several international prizes, including the U.S. Albert Lasker Award twice.
About the Institute of Human Virology
Formed in 1996 as a partnership between the State of Maryland, the City of Baltimore, the University System of Maryland, and the University of Maryland Medical System, the IHV is an institute of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and is home to some of the most globally-recognized and world-renowned experts in all of virology. The IHV combines the disciplines of basic research, epidemiology, and clinical research in a concerted effort to speed the discovery of diagnostics and therapeutics for a wide variety of chronic and deadly viral and immune disorders - most notably, HIV the virus that causes AIDS. For more information, visit www.ihv.org and follow us on Twitter @IHVmaryland.