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University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

Nobel Laureate Receives Porter Prize from Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health

PITTSBURGH, May 20, 2011 Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, Ph.D., a virologist who accepted the Nobel Prize in Medicine for research that led to the identification of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), is the 2011 recipient of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health’s (GSPH) Porter Prize in recognition of her outstanding achievements promoting health and preventing disease through her many contributions to HIV/AIDS research.

GSPH bestowed the award on Dr. Barré-Sinoussi today, after she delivered a scientific lecture on the diverse host responses to HIV and simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection and a community lecture on the global benefit of multidisciplinary science in researching HIV.

“We are delighted to honor Dr. Barré-Sinoussi with the 2011 Porter Prize,” said Donald S. Burke, M.D., GSPH dean and UPMC-Jonas Salk Chair of Global Health. “Her research was critical in the discovery of HIV and the understanding that the virus causes AIDS. Without her research, scientists would not understand the biology of the virus, which remains a global health issue.”

Dr. Barré-Sinoussi is the director of the Regulation of Retroviral Infections Unit at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, has been a researcher of retrovirology since the 1970s. She and Professor Luc Montagnier received the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2008 for their discovery of HIV, which stemmed from Barré-Sinoussi’s 1983 publication that reported the discovery of a retrovirus in a patient at risk for AIDS. In 1988, she began leading a laboratory at the Institut Pasteur and initiated research programs on viral and host determinants of HIV/AIDS pathogenesis. Between 1988 and 1998, Barré-Sinoussi worked with collaborative programs on HIV vaccine research. Today her team is focused on regulations of HIV/SIV infection.

Along with her research activities, Dr. Barré-Sinoussi has been involved in the integration of HIV/AIDS research and outreach in countries of limited resources through the Institut Pasteur International Network and has worked with organizations such as the National Agency for AIDS Research in France and the World Health Organization. She is president of the Scientific Committee of the National Agency for AIDS and Viral Hepatitis Research (ANRS) and heads the ANRS site in South East Asia.

Dr. Barré-Sinoussi is author and co-author of 249 original publications and more than 120 articles in book reviews. She has been a speaker at more than 300 international meetings and conferences and is a member of a number of scientific committees in France and elsewhere, including those of several International AIDS Conferences. In June 2006, Barré-Sinoussi was elected as an International AIDS Society Governing Council member in the European Region. She has received more than 10 national or international awards and was awarded doctor honoris causa from a number of universities. In February 2009, she was elected a member of the French Academy of Science. In 2012, Barré-Sinoussi will be the president of the International AIDS Society.

Established in 1983 by the Health Education Center, the Porter Prize is named in honor of the center’s founding chairman Milton Porter. Until his death in 1996, Mr. Porter remained devoted to helping people achieve better health through personal behavior and access to wellness information and health care. As CEO of L.B. Foster Co., he was one of the first industrialists in the nation to view the workplace as a site for wellness programs. The Porter Prize committee is chaired by Mr. Porter’s nephew, Lee B. Foster II, trustee of the University of Pittsburgh and chairman of the GSPH Board of Visitors.

Past Porter Prize recipients have included Nancy Brinker, for her breast cancer activism and her creation of Susan G. Komen for the Cure; Bill Cosby, Ed.D., in recognition of the health promotion messages he has shared with audiences over the years through his writings, television programs and stand-up comedy routines; Fred Rogers, for his work in childhood education; C. Everett Koop, M.D., for calling national attention to poor behavior as a determinant of health;  and community-based health care advocate Wilford Payne.

About the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

Faculty at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH), founded in 1948 and now one of the top-ranked schools of public health in the United States, conduct research on public health and medical care that improves the lives of millions of people around the world. GSPH is a leader in devising new methods to prevent and treat cardiovascular diseases, HIV/AIDS, cancer and other important public health problems. For more information about GSPH, visit the school’s website at    

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