In 1981 clinicians were alarmed by the sharp rise in the number of people they were seeing with swollen lymph glands (nodes) and infections that betrayed a failed immune system. Finding the cause was a matter of urgency. After months of painstaking experiments, culturing cells from an affected patient’s lymph node Françoise Barré-Sinoussi – born on this day in 1947 – had found the culprit, a virus. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the cause of the immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) had been identified in less than two and a half years. Research into how to treat it and limit its spread could begin. Barré-Sinoussi – along with her mentor at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France, Luc Montagnier – received the Nobel Prize for her work in 2008. Today she challenges government and religious heads about how they are tackling HIV, contraception and the distribution of anti-retroviral drugs.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.