Franoise Barr-Sinoussi ( born 30 July 1947 is a French virologist and Director of the Regulation of Retroviral Infections Division (Unit de Rgulation des Infections Rtrovirales) and Professor at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, France . Born in Paris, France, Barr-Sinoussi performed some of the fundamental work in the identification of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) as the cause of AIDS. In 2008, Franoise was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, together with her former mentor, Luc Montagnier, for their discovery of HIV. She mandatorily retired from active research on August 31, 2015 and will fully retire by some time in 2017.
Barr-Sinoussi joined the Pasteur Institute in Paris in the early 1970s. She received her PhD in 1975 and interned at the U.S. National Institutes of Health before returning to the Pasteur Institute. Barr-Sinoussi’s research quickly turned to a particular group of viruses, the retroviruses.
During the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, scientists were shocked because they didnt know what was causing the outbreak. Her knowledge in this field led her to discover HIV in 1983 as the origin of the disease. This discovery revealed an urgent need for diagnostic tests to aid in controlling the spread of the disease. Barr-Sinoussi started her own laboratory at the Pasteur Institute in 1988.
Among Barr-Sinoussi’s many recent research contributions are studies of various aspects of the adaptive immune response to viral infection, the role of innate immune defences of the host in controlling HIV/AIDS, factors involved in mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and characteristics that allow a small percentage of HIV-positive individuals, known as elite suppressors or controllers, to limit HIV replication without antiretroviral drugs. She has co-authored over 240 scientific publications, has participated in over 250 international conferences, and has trained many young researchers.
Barr-Sinoussi has actively contributed to several scientific societies and committees at the Institut Pasteur as well as to other AIDS organizations, such as the National Agency for AIDS Research in France. She has also been implicated at an international level, notably as a consultant to the WHO and the UNAIDS-HIV.
Since the 1980s, Barr-Sinoussi has initiated collaborations with developing countries and has managed multidisciplinary networks with dedication. In 2016, she was interviewed by the Sunday Observer and reflected on how Jamaica is dealing with HIV . She constantly works on establishing permanent links between basic research and clinical research with the aim of achieving concrete improvements in the areas of prevention, clinical care, and treatment.
Professor Barr-Sinoussi believes that scientists have made steady progress given the development of antiretroviral treatment which UNAIDS states is being accessed by 17 million of the people globally who are living with AIDS, but finding a cure, or cures, will take time, and a continued investment in research . As the Co-chair of the 21st International AIDS Society (AIS), she said the search for curative strategy of HIV is a goal of paramount importance and a priority for the future of HIV research. Moreover, even though research to achieve such cures is in a formative stage, significant advances are being made towards a HIV cure .
In 2009, she wrote an open letter to Pope Benedict XVI in protest over his statements that condoms are at best ineffective in the AIDS crisis.
In July 2012 Barr-Sinoussi became President of the International AIDS Society.
Barr-Sinoussi shared the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Luc Montagnier for their co-discovery of HIV, and with Harald zur Hausen, who discovered the viral cause of cervical cancer that led to the development of the HPV vaccine.
In addition to the Nobel Prize, Barr-Sinoussi has received awards including:
- The Sovac Prize
- The Krber European Science Prize (aka Krber Foundation Prize for the Promotion of European Science)
- The Prize of the French Academy of Sciences (Acadmie des sciences)
- The King Faisal International Prize
- The International AIDS Society Prize
Barr-Sinoussi was named an Officer of the National Order of the Legion of Honour (Ordre national de la Lgion dhonneur) in 2006 and was raised to Commander in 2009. She was promoted to the dignity of Grand Officer in 2013.
She received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Tulane University in May 2009, and an honorary Doctor of Medicine from the University of New South Wales in July 2014.