Françoise Barré-Sinoussi (born 30 July 1947) is a French virologist and director of the Unité de Régulation des Infections Rétrovirales at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, France. In 2008, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, together with Luc Montagnier, for their discovery of HIV. On 24 February 2009, she became the first female Nobel Prize winner to be elected to the Academy of Sciences, France.
Work on HIV/AIDS
Françoise Barré-Sinoussi received her doctorate in 1974 from the Faculty of Science in Paris. In 1975, she got employed as a researcher at INSERM (Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale), where she started working on topics related to AIDS with Luc Montagnier. Her research quickly turned to a particular group of viruses, the retroviruses. Her knowledge in this field led her to discover the AIDS virus in 1983. This discovery showed the urgent need of diagnostic tests to control the disease. She worked on the impact of the innate defences of the host in controlling HIV/AIDS, as well as mother-to-child transmission. In 1988, she began working at the Institute Pasteur of which she is today the director of the department for retroviral infections. She is also in charge of the South-East Asian department of the National Agency for Research on AIDS and Hepatitis (ANRS).
She has co-authored over 200 scientific publications and has participated in over 250 international conferences. Barré-Sinoussi has actively contributed to several scientific societies and committees at the Institut Pasteur as well as to other AIDS organizations, such as the National Agency for AIDS Research in France. She has also been active on an international level, notably as a consultant to the WHO and the UNAIDS-HIV.
Since the 1980s, Barré-Sinoussi has initiated collaborations with developing countries whereby she has managed multidisciplinary networks with dedication. She constantly works on establishing permanent links between basic and clinical research with the aim of achieving concrete improvements in the areas of prevention, clinical care, and treatment.
Other than the Nobel Prize, she has also received the following distinctions: the ‘chevalier de l’Ordre du mérite’ and ‘chevalier de la Légion d’honneur’, as well as other national and international awards for her research on AIDS.