Science Frictions

Alberta Reappraising AIDS Society

David R. Crowe, President
Phone: +1-403-289-6609
Fax: +1-403-206-7717

Roger Swan, Treasurer
Box 61037, Kensington Postal Outlet
Calgary, Alberta T2N 4S6
Phone: +1-403-220-0129

Science Frictions

Martin Delaney’s letter (”A Toast to Gallo,” August 2006) only underscores the crisis of accountability in AIDS research. As a member of the Board of Advisors of Robert Gallo’s Institute of Human Virology (IHV), Delaney cannot objectively defend Gallo’s reputation.

John Crewdson’s book, “Science Fictions,” provides strong and extensive evidence that “vindicated” is too strong a word for the politically forced dropping of attempts to charge Gallo with scientific misconduct in misappropriating a French virus. The last attempt died in 1995, when the Republicans took control of Congress and Democratic Congressman John Dingell lost chairmanship of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. Dingell’s committee had been investigating Gallo’s activities at the National Institutes of Health and the role of the Department of Health and Human Services in covering them up.

Though never officially issued, the Dingell report is available on the Web ( and should be required reading for AIDS patients or anyone entrusting their health to U.S. government–sponsored research. It states that “at the very inception of their seminal experiments,” Gallo and his team of scientists at the Laboratory of Tumor Cell Biology “knew or had reason to know that the virus they were working with and claimed as their own was the [French] virus.”

After an investigation within the National Institutes of Health concluded that Gallo had committed scientific misconduct, it wasn’t Gallo who had to defend himself but the investigators who had to defend their charges against a newly formed appeals panel. The investigators had little choice but to drop the charges, because the panel legalistically redefined scientific misconduct to require proof of intent. The Dingell report accuses HHS of “defending the indefensible” in this way and HHS lawyers of illegally using their “position or the economic power of the government to harass parties or to bring about unjust settlements or results.”

The new definition has placed the public health at higher risk. Horace Freeland Judson’s book “The Great Betrayal” details how, by focusing on “intent” to defraud, the new standards allow scientists to claim, in effect, that they didn’t know what they were doing–and then to keep on doing it.

Gallo left the NIH in the wake of this scandal. Many AIDS patients have risked their lives on Gallo’s flawed assumptions, rather than being among any “countless millions” saved. Delaney can show no proof of lives saved unless he can cite a standard against which they would have been lost. The IVH continues at Maryland taxpayers’ expense, despite having developed nothing of lasting value in its 10 years of existence.

David Crowe
Alberta Reappraising AIDS Society


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© Copyright July 21, 2014: Alberta Reappraising AIDS Society