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HIV/AIDS expert Robert Gallo, M.D., to speak at UNMC

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Robet Gallo, M.D., in 2009
Robert Gallo, M.D., the scientist who in 1984 co-discovered that the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was the responsible infectious agent for AIDS, will deliver the Carol Swarts, M.D., Distinguished Lecture on Nov. 18 from noon to 1:15 p.m. in UNMC's Durham Research Center Auditorium.

"We are honored to have Dr. Gallo on our campus and to hear his wisdom on the future of this broad field with an understanding of the journey," said Howard Gendelman, M.D., professor and chair of the UNMC Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Neuroscience. "He is truly one of the most recognized scientists in the country."

Faculty, staff and students are invited to hear Dr. Gallo's presentation, "Viruses and Epidemics with Emphasis on HIV/AIDS: Perspectives from the Past -- Challenges for the Future." Lunch will be provided to the first 150 attendees.

Dr. Gallo is a professor in the Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Now, 31 years since his breakthrough with HIV/AIDS, Dr. Gallo's research team is beginning human trials this month on a potentially revolutionary HIV vaccine.

The IHV was co-founded and is directed by Dr. Gallo, who became world famous with his HIV/AIDS discovery. Little was known then of the mysterious disease that was fast becoming the deadliest in medical history. Since then, Dr. Gallo has spent much of his career trying to put an end to this raging epidemic and other viral, chronic illnesses.

Though best known for his co-discovery of HIV, Dr. Gallo and his team pioneered the development of the HIV blood test, which enabled health care workers for the first time to screen for the AIDS virus, leading to a more rapid diagnosis while simultaneously protecting patients receiving blood transfusions. His research also helped physicians develop HIV therapies to prolong the lives of those infected with the virus.

Prior to the AIDS epidemic, Dr. Gallo was the first to identify a human retrovirus and the only known human leukemia virus (HTLV), one of the few known viruses shown to cause a human cancer.

Dr. Gallo has published more than 1,300 papers and was ranked third in the world for scientific impact during the period of 1983-2002. In 1982 and 1986, he received the prestigious Lasker Award for his outstanding scientific discoveries.

The Carol Swarts, M.D., Distinguished Lecture

The Carol Swarts, M.D., Distinguished Lecture was created to attract eminent scientists conducting biomedical research in infectious and degenerative diseases to visit and instruct UNMC faculty and students and enrich our campus. Lecturers selected are considered to be among the best and brightest in their field of science and are recognized internationally.

The lecture is supported by the University of Nebraska Foundation. It is free of charge and open to the community. The lecture is hosted by the UNMC Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Neuroscience (PEN) with support through an endowment established by the Swarts family to the PEN Department.

Born in the Nebraska Sandhills near Hemingford, Carol Swarts, 82, earned her bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1955 from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In 1959, she graduated from medical school at UNMC, where she was one of only three female medical students in her class.

Dr. Swarts had a radiation oncology practice for many years in the greater Cincinnati area. In recent years, she has worked in multiple states filling in for physicians as needed. She has served internationally by working on medical and educational projects in multiple countries.

A huge supporter of UNMC and the entire university for the opportunity to receive a medical education through the community of those who came before, her contributions include:

  • the Carol Swarts, M.D., Emerging Neuroscience Research Laboratory;
  • A donation to help fund the Sorrell Center;
  • Scholarships to UNL and to the UNMC College of Medicine;
  • Ongoing support of the student-run SHARING Clinics at UNMC; and
  • Creation of the Swarts Family Laboratory in the UNL Biological Systems Engineering program.

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