Stop Dr. Bob

U27111 at U27111 at
Sun Jan 7 22:51:45 EST 1996

Here's another posting I found in an AIDS newsgroup which I wanted
to share with people in this newsgroup.

I know from personal email that some people in *this* group does
not appreciate these postings from aids activists being presented
in this forum... sorry... but I feel very strongly about this issue
and feel it's one that our community shouldn't just bury their
heads in the sand and ignore.


Subject: Gallo's Hearing in Maryland
Date: 7 Jan 1996 09:07:16 -0500

The following is an op-ed piece which will appear in the Baltimore
Alternative this week. FYI, I have all the documentation and
sources to back up the statements made.



The Dr. Bob Show: Gallo Gets a Hearing

By Garey Lambert

        A committee of the Maryland General Assembly held hearings
last month to find out whether Dr. Bob Gallo's Human Virology
Institute should get $24 million in state money. Somehow, between
June and December, the money for Dr. Bob has grown from $9 million
to $24 million. This didn't seem to bother the committee which
welcomed Dr. Bob and succumbed to his charm and world renown. They
thanked him for taking time from his busy schedule to appear. Dr.
Bob was gracious and said he didn't mind.
        Dr. Bob knows how to testify; he seemed almost humble which
endeared him to the committee members even more. He explained how
important the Human Virology Institute will be and how it will make
Baltimore a center for AIDS research. He explained that it would
make Baltimore world famous, as if that's what's important in
finding the cure for a terminal disease, and as if Johns Hopkins
didn't already give Baltimore a global reputation. Of course, he
talked about how much money the state would make from its
investment, but then what would you expect him to say? Never mind
that in 30 years at the NIH, the lab generated no money, except for
that tainted by the HIV scandal. Somehow, in Baltimore, it will,
Dr. Bob assured the committee.
        A couple of members asked some tough questions about Dr.
Bob's past. They wanted to know if all the allegations were true.
Dr. Bob assured them that everything was cool, and dismissed his
opponents as "obsessed" and their criticisms as "nonsense."
        Unfortunately, Dr. Bob couldn't stay for the whole hearing,
he had to catch a plane to Strasbourg, France for a terribly
important meeting.  Being a world-renowned scientist means you have
to attend meetings in exotic and cosmopolitan places. The members
were really impressed now, and excused him, once again thanking him
for taking his valuable time for $24 million. Of course, AIDS being
a global epidemic, lots of scientists and even AIDS activists
attend meetings in exotic and cosmopolitan places.
        After Dr. Bob left, the hearings sort of lost their
sparkle. After all, it was time for the naysayers to testify, so
some of the members decided they had better things to do and left.
        The naysayers, several NIH scientists and the investigator
for the congressional investigation into Dr. Bob, explained that he
had never been exonerated of the charges leveled against him, and
that, even if he didn't commit misconduct by strict ethical
standards, he allowed an atmosphere in his lab where misconduct
could flourish. If Dr. Bob wasn't technically guilty of misconduct
he certainly deserved strong censure. The congressional committee
concluded unequivocally that the French discovered HIV and that Dr.
Bob deliberately confused the debate to make it seem as if he'd
discovered it.
        An activist pointed out that Dr. Bob had collaborated with
a Dr. Daniel Zagury in the development of an AIDS vaccine. They
gave it to adults in Paris and to large numbers of uninfected
children and adults in Zaire. Three people died from the vaccine in
Paris, but no one knows what happened to the kids. This is part of
Dr. Bob's "nonsense." At the NIH, the Office for the Protection
from Research Risks, the OPRR, found that Dr. Bob didn't understand
the rules governing research with human subjects and was cavalier
in applying them. So, the OPRR required that, in addition to the
standard requirements for conducting human research, Dr. Bob must
have special approval before he can conduct research on human
        By now the hearings had been going on all day, so the
members that remained were tired and fidgety. They didn't want to
hear this ethical stuff. Most of the members had already left and
didn't hear any of this "nonsense." Besides, their minds were made
up. Dr. Bob is world-renowned and is going to make Baltimore
        Dr. Bob didn't come to Baltimore alone. Though most of his
key lab people chose to stay at the NIH or take other jobs rather
than come with Dr. Bob, he managed to recruit Dr. Robert Redfield
to handle the clinical stuff. Dr. Bob Redfield, you may remember,
was accused of manipulating data on a study he conducted while at
the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.  The Army kept things pretty
quiet and announced that it couldn't find enough evidence to prove
the allegations. But the Army has refused to release the
information from its investigation and Public Citizen is suing
the Army to get it. Maybe Dr. Redfield wasn't too hard to recruit.
        Early in the day, University of Maryland Chancellor Donald
Langenberg testified glowingly of Dr. Bob and said that Dr.
Redfield was doing swimmingly well in the Adult AIDS Service. I
guess he hadn't heard about the three hour meetings its staff must
now endure where Dr. Bob R. pontificates and rants, and I suppose
he doesn't know that Dr. Bob R. rebuffs any opinions, ideas, or
suggestions that aren't in line with his vision, and I'm sure he
doesn't know that Dr. R's micro-management has staff frustrated and
disgruntled. Morale has plummeted. But, the committee didn't hear
any of that.
        Dr. Bob R's vision is a strange one. After all those years
in the Army, he doesn't understand life on the outside. He outlined
his ideas in a letter to Keith Persinger of the University of
Maryland Medical System. Given what we know about the epidemic,
they don't make any sense, but they look good on paper. At one
point he says that "a center of excellence for treatment of HIV
infection does not exist in the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan
area." Well, that puts Chase-Brexton, Whitman-Walker and Georgetown
University in their place! And, what about Hopkins? It's AIDS
Service is rated second best in the country, and it ranked fourth
overall in the recent research recompetition for the ACTG. Harvard
came in at 27th. Must not be excellent enough though.
        Thank goodness for that $24 million in taxpayer money. Now
we have the Dr. Bobs to show us all how to do it right.

Garey Lambert, AIDS Action Baltimore


More information about the Bioforum mailing list