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Peter's Principles (2008) Discover, Jeanne Lenzer

Peter's Principles (2008) Discover, Jeanne Lenzer

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Published by sadunkal
More info here: http://condeve.blogspot.com/2009/03/peters-principles-with-links.html

"JEANNE LENZER ("Peter's Principles", page 44) is an investigative medical journalist based in Kingston, New York. recently she met with biochemist Peter Duesberg to profile him for DISCOVER. Duesberg received attention in the scientific community in the late 1980s after he advanced a controversial theory that HIV doesn't cause AIDS. Throughout history, rebel thinkers have been essential to the advancement of science by putting conventional wisdom to test. Lenzer therefore was stunned when, during her research, several respected scientists who were willing to consider Duesberg's theories told her they preferred to remain anonymous rather than risk being ostracized by their peers. "A few highly placed physicians didn't want their names used even though they thought Duesberg could possibly be right in part, if not in whole, about HIV," Lenzer says. "Some were skeptical but felt that at a minimum his ideas should be tested rather than rejected out of hand." Lenzer is a frequent contributor to the British Medical Journal. Her work has appeared in The Scientist and Slate she recently completed a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at MIT."
More info here: http://condeve.blogspot.com/2009/03/peters-principles-with-links.html

"JEANNE LENZER ("Peter's Principles", page 44) is an investigative medical journalist based in Kingston, New York. recently she met with biochemist Peter Duesberg to profile him for DISCOVER. Duesberg received attention in the scientific community in the late 1980s after he advanced a controversial theory that HIV doesn't cause AIDS. Throughout history, rebel thinkers have been essential to the advancement of science by putting conventional wisdom to test. Lenzer therefore was stunned when, during her research, several respected scientists who were willing to consider Duesberg's theories told her they preferred to remain anonymous rather than risk being ostracized by their peers. "A few highly placed physicians didn't want their names used even though they thought Duesberg could possibly be right in part, if not in whole, about HIV," Lenzer says. "Some were skeptical but felt that at a minimum his ideas should be tested rather than rejected out of hand." Lenzer is a frequent contributor to the British Medical Journal. Her work has appeared in The Scientist and Slate she recently completed a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at MIT."

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: sadunkal on Mar 20, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/10/2014

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44
 
PeterDuesbergwent fromacclaimedmolecularbiologistto bad boyof science.Whathappened? And canhe comeback?
PETERS PRINCIPLES
P
P
by JEANNE LENZER
Under a brilliant early-morning sky in Berke-
ley, Caliornia, Peter Duesberg pushes his bicyclealong Oxord Street while animatedly explaininghis new theory o cancer—oblivious to the actthat he is about to walk in ront o a car. A pro-essor o molecular and cell biology at the Uni-versity o Caliornia at Berkeley, the 71-year-oldDuesberg could pass or a younger man. He isslender, with white hair and strong eatures, andtoday he is wearing a black leather jacket overa button-down shirt. Cancer is an old passion, atopic he has been researching or more than 40years. Now his radical theory on the origins o thedisease is nally winning serious attention.He is so absorbed in conversation that only asdisaster is about to strike does he look up to seethe car bearing down on him. Duesberg gigglesas i enjoying a private joke and steps back to thecurb, pulling his bike with him. But even beorehe reaches the saety o the sidewalk, he has re-sumed his explanation o aneuploidy, the basis ohis theory about the cause o cancer.Duesberg is no stranger to controversy—oroncoming trac. On March 1, 1987, he publisheda paper in
Cancer Research
questioning therole o HIV in causing AIDS. The paper becamethe line in the sand, the demarcation betweenDuesberg the golden boy o biology—part othe team that rst mapped the genetic structureo retroviruses, codiscoverer o the rst viralcancer gene in 1970, clever critic—and Dues-berg the demon. For 23 years beore the pub-lication o that paper, Duesberg says, he neverhad an application or public unding o his re-search turned down. In 1986, at age 49, he waselected to the National Academy o Sciences.That same year he was given a National Insti-tutes o Health Outstanding Investigator Award,one o the most prestigious and coveted grants.Robert Gallo, codiscoverer o HIV and a ormerriend o Duesberg’s, praised him in 1985 as a“man o extraordinary energy, unusual honesty,enormous sense o humor, and a rare criticalsense.” He added, “This critical sense otenmakes us look twice, then a third time, at a con-clusion many o us believed to be oregone.”Since the 1987 article on HIV, Duesberg hasbecome a pariah among scientists. More than 20
PHOTOGRAPHy by HOWARD CAO
 
SCIENCEONTHEEDGE
 
T
o his grant proposals or government unding have been turneddown. AIDS activists have denounced him in public protestsand media campaigns. Friends, Gallo among them, have aban-doned him. His laboratory, once staed by two secretaries andnumerous graduate students and postdocs, is now occupied byonly Duesberg himsel and one graduate student—although un-dergraduates do circulate in and out. He has no secretary. Hiswie, who pinch-hits as an assistant, talks in a whisper about thepain o his exclusion rom the rest o academia, social events,and a normal lie. Otherwise mild-mannered scientists knownor choosing their words careully, who might once have calledDuesberg the Einstein o biology, now spew vitriol at him, makinghurtul comments that he claims roll right o him. In a pointedreerence to those who say the Holocaust never occurred, he andothers who challenge the prevailing understanding that HIV is thecause o AIDS have been labeled “denialists.”
The label is not without irony. Duesberg was born in Münster,
Germany, in 1936 to physician parents; his mother was an ophthal-mologist and his ather a renowned and groundbreaking internist.Despite the war that would soon be raging in Europe, Duesbergdescribes his childhood as oddly idyllic, a time when he delightedin play and small pranks. As an altar boy given the task o carryingthe thurible lled with burning incense during Catholic services,Duesberg discovered the un o swinging it aster than necessary,creating plumes o smoke that caused parishioners to cough andchoke. It was a source o hilarity or him and the other altar boys,and when the priests scolded them, it only added to the un. He en- joyed summers at Lake Constance on the border Germany shareswith Austria and Switzerland, where he swam, bicycled, andplayed games with other children “like there was no tomorrow.”Duesberg insists he was shielded rom the war. Yet it was arrom invisible, even in the small towns where he lived and played. “Istill remember…these speeches on the radio,” he says. “We weresupposed to believe in the Final Victory.” His teacher, who wore aswastika on his jacket, told the class that the Reich would win thewar with
Wunderwae
—literally, “wonder weapons.”“We were too young to take it terribly seriously,” Duesbergsays, adding that the sound o sirens warning o incoming bomb-ers evoked a boyish sense o excitement. “We would go look atthe bombs and collect ragments,” he says. But on December25, 1944, when the sirens sounded and the Duesbergs hunkereddown in a makeshit bomb shelter, the amily home at 11a Hein-richstrasse in Kreuznach, near Frankurt, was bombed. Only in alater conversation does Duesberg admit that even today the sirenso re engines or ambulances in the streets o Berkeley provoke inhim a primitive ear refex—a lasting eect o the war years.Duesberg’s parents, both intellectuals who held politics in con-tempt, were unable or unwilling to openly conront the Nazi threat.In an attempt to evade pressure to join the Nazi Party, Duesberg’sather volunteered or the army. Ater serving as a doctor in Rus-sia, he was captured by British soldiers in Belgium and held as aprisoner o war or a year in England beore being released and re-turned to Germany in 1946. Duesberg’s parents separated shortlyater the war.Duesberg is sel-conscious about his heritage, and it is per-haps inescapable that the war and his ather’s role in the Germanarmy would have ueled some o this. These actors may also haveplanted the seeds o a complicated, disquieting side o him thatpersists to this day. When asked about his ather, Duesberg is re-markably restrained, even evasive. He shrugs o questions, hisace betraying neither aection nor anger. When asked about hisather’s seminal contribution to the understanding o cardiovas-cular shock, the accomplished son demurs, saying, “I don’t reallyknow what his theory o shock is.” As it did with his ather, though, science would dene Duesberg’slie. The postwar years led to “an enormous upswing in science,”he says. The discovery o polymers, or repeating chains o pro-teins, opened up expanses o research. “This is when insulin wassequenced,” he says. “It’s what kids in high school talked about.” At rst Duesberg’s interest was in chemical rather than biologi-cal polymers. The possibilities or new inventions were seeminglylimitless. However, ater he earned his Ph.D. in chemistry rom theUniversity o Frankurt in 1963, one o his proessors, TheodoreWieland, told him that the most important and exciting work wasin the hunt or the viruses thought to cause cancer. Duesberg re-members Wieland’s advising him: “Go west, young man. Go west.”Duesberg, thinking it would make him “rich and amous,” decidedto take his proessor’s advice and move to the United States.Over the next our decades, Duesberg would throw himselinto his passion or science, traveling thousands o miles rom hishomeland. Even so, he still peppers his conversations, no matterthe topic, with World War II metaphors and reerences to Hitler andhis henchmen—and to the “good Germans” who did as the govern-ment demanded. It is hard to understand him at times, not just be-cause o his sharp German accent and odd phrasings but becausehe makes mental leaps that can leave a listener exhausted. Inrapid-re sequence he jumps rom scientic minutiae to grand po-litical comparisons (viruses, bacteria, oncogenes, even research-
46

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