Articles by Ed Hooper

Review of The Origins of AIDS by Jacques Pepin

Review of The Origins of AIDS by Jacques Pepin [C.U.P. 2011]

"The Origins of AIDS" by Jacques Pepin [Cambridge University Press], which came out in October 2011, has received a fair amount of attention in the press, almost all of which has been complimentary. I have a rather different take on the book.

The Bushmeat Gang (The Gang That Couldn't Tell The Time!)

[This is a response to Worobey et al.: "Island Biogeography Reveals the Deep History of SIV" (Science; 2010; 329; 1487), and to the related article by Donald G. McNeil Jr. in the New York Times, "Precursor to HIV was in Monkeys for Milenniums" (NY Times; September 16, 2010).]

The Donald McNeil article in the New York Times invited comments from the public, and in the following 24 hours 101 comments were logged before the Comments section on this topic on the Times web-site was closed.

The Death of an American Hero

Walter A. Nelson-Rees, 1929-2009

Once again I have the sad task of having to report the death of a fine scientist, and a good man. Below I include a link to the excellent obituary notice that was sent me by Walter's partner of the last fifty years, Jim Coran, which reveals many unexpected and little-known details about Walter's life and scientific career.

Walter A. Nelson-Rees Obituary

In addition, I would like to add some words of my own.

Walter A. Nelson-Rees Obituary

Walter Anthony Rees y Nelson, (Niki) the second of two boys, was born in Havana, Cuba on January 11, 1929. His father was German, his mother a native Cuban of Danish and English origin was a U.S. citizen. He attended primary school in Havana until the age of nine. In 1938 he, together with his brother and mother, were sent to Karlsruhe, Germany to live on his father’s income there. He attended two boarding schools in Baden from 1939 until 1944 and three schools in and near Karlsruhe from 1944 to 1945, the years coinciding with World War II.

When intellectual dishonesty becomes a crime: Nature and its cynical promotion of bad science.

Early in October 2008 an article proposing a new, earlier year of origin for HIV-1, the pandemic AIDS virus, was published in Nature. For several reasons I, and scientists whom I know, considered this article a travesty, and one that spoke volumes about the conduct of Science in the 21st Century.

The principal author of the article, "Direct evidence of extensive diversity of HIV-1 in Kinshasa by 1960", was Michael Worobey, an ambitious young Canadian scientist who had recently been appointed - while still in his early thirties - to head the laboratory of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona, in Tucson.

Worobey's article dealt with huge mathematical calculations done on "super-computers". In reality, however, it was a mish-mash of arguments about the likely date of the beginnings of the AIDS pandemic, which concluded that the first example of HIV-1 must have existed in humans in or around 1908. Unfortunately, Worobey's calculations were based on a scientific model (the "phylogenetic clock", or "molecular clock") that is entirely bogus when applied to a lentiretrovirus such as HIV-1. The results he came up with are therefore equally spurious.

The Death Of a Truthful Man. Pierre Doupagne, (1923-2008)

It is with sadness that I have to report the death of Pierre Doupagne, the former technical assistant at the Laboratoire Medical de Stanleyville, (LMS) in the Belgian Congo. He died peacefully in hospital in Liege, Belgium, on October 24th, 2008. He was 85 years old.

Although he was not one of the four doctors based at the LMS in the latter half of the 1950s, Pierre Doupagne was the man whose skills underpinned their work - and in the end he played a significant part in the origins of AIDS debate that began some 40 years later.

More Worobey Misinformation

The AIDSOrigins Webmaster has just drawn my attention to the following article on the Web. Apparently entitled: The AIDS Conspiracy Handbook, it was written by Juliet Lapidos.

It lists several wacky theories about the origins of AIDS. One of the theories that features is the OPV theory, and Ms Lapidos sums up as follows:

HIV-1 in 1908? Another Sad Comedy of Errors from Michael Worobey

October 9th, 2008.

As forecast in my piece "Worobey's wobbly research", first posted on this site on March 19th, 2008, the Canadian molecular biologist Michael Worobey has just published new calculations about the age of the AIDS virus, HIV-1, which place its origins even further back in time.

His work appears in the form of a lengthy letter to the journal Nature, entitled "Direct evidence of extensive diversity of HIV-1 in Kinshasa by 1960", by M. Worobey, D.E. Teuwen, M. Bunce, S.M. Wolinsky et al.; [Nature; 2008 (October 2nd); 455; 661-664.]

A Nobel Prize for Montagnier and Barré-Sinoussi

Congratulations to Luc Montagnier and Françoise Barré-Sinoussi of the Pasteur Institute who, it was announced yesterday, have just been awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for their discovery of the AIDS virus (now called HIV) in 1983. They shared the prize with Harald zur Hausen, from Germany, who discovered the link between Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and cervical cancer.

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