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Nobel left few instructions on how to select winners, but medicine winners are typically awarded for a specific breakthrough rather than a body of research.
Dr. Robert Gallo, director of the Institute for Human Virology at the University of Maryland and a prominent early researcher in HIV, said it was "a disappointment" not to be honored along with Montagnier and Barre-Sinoussi.
But he said all three of the award's recipients deserved the honor. No more than three people can share a Nobel prize.
Maria Masucci, member of the Nobel Assembly, said there was no dispute in the scientific community that the French pair discovered and characterized the virus.
"The dispute is focusing on later events in the history of the virus and in particular on the development of diagnostic tools, which of course is extremely important but basically dependent on the discovery of the virus itself," Masucci said.
Last year's medicine award went to U.S. researchers Mario Capecchi and Oliver Smithies and Briton Martin Evans for work that led to a powerful and widely used technique to manipulate genes in mice, which has helped scientists study heart disease, diabetes, cancer, cystic fibrosis and other diseases.
On the Net:
Nobel Foundation: http://nobelprize.org/
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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