Luc Montagnier (1932–2022)
Prof. Luc Montagnier died on 8 February 2022 at the age of 89. Montagnier was born on 18 August 1932 in Chabris, France. He studied medicine at the University of Poitiers, graduated from the University of Paris–Sorbonne in 1960, and joined the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS). He came to the UK to work with F. Kingsley Sanders on RNA viruses, and then with Ian Macpherson, with whom he showed that polyomavirus-transformed cells, unlike their normal counterparts, could grow into tumor cell colonies suspended in soft agar culture. Returning to France in 1964, Montagnier worked at the Institut Curie until 1972, when Jacques Monod invited him to work at the Institut Pasteur. Joined in 1975 by Barré-Sinoussi and Jean-Claude Chermann, he stayed there until his retirement in 2000.
In 1983, he led the team of investigators at the Institut Pasteur in Paris that described a novel virus now named human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). In 2008, Montagnier and his colleague Françoise Barré-Sinoussi were awarded one-half of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for identifying HIV.
Montagnier received many awards for his work on HIV prior to the Nobel Prize, notably the Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award and the Louis-Jeantet Prize. He was promoted to grand officier de la Légion d’honneur in 2008. Many universities across the globe awarded him honorary doctorates. The discovery of HIV led to radical advances in virology and immunology. With antiretroviral drug treatment, HIV infection is now a largely manageable condition, despite the lack of an efficacious vaccine. As Björn Vennström remarked at the 2008 Nobel ceremony, Montagnier was in the right place at the right time.
Scientists and students will remember him due to his extensive knowledge and speaking skills to share his knowledge with younger generations.