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Keystone Symposia hosted Nobel Prize winners in 1984

ROBERT ALLEN
summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado

Two scientists awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine on Monday presented their groundbreaking AIDS research early on at a conference in the region organized by the Keystone Symposia in 1984.

French scientists Francoise Barre-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier won the prestigious prize for discovering the virus that causes AIDS.

The conference in Park City, Utah, was the first international conference dedicated to the disease, said James Aiken, president and CEO of the Keystone Symposia.

“We look at it as an example of what our organization excels in: To be at the forefront of getting scientists together to talk about the most cutting-edge science,” he said.

The conference occurred in the midst of a series of papers published regarding the disease; it represented a consensus among scientists of the AIDS characteristics, he said.

Barre-Sinoussi is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at HIV/AIDS meetings at Keystone Resort in March 2009. The gathering will address the biology of the virus and development of vaccines, Aiken said.

“Over the past 25 years, we’ve held a lot of meetings on the topic,” Aiken said.

The French scientists share their prize with Germany’s Harald zur Hausen, who was honored with discovering another sexually-transmitted disease: the human papilloma viruses that cause cervical cancer.

The $1.4 million prize was split in half, with the French scientists sharing their $700,000 share.

Alfred Nobel, the Swede who invented dynamite, established the prizes in his will in the categories of medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and peace. A separate Nobel Prize in economics was created by Sweden’s central bank.

The awards include the money, a diploma and an invitation to the prize ceremonies in Stockholm and Oslo on Dec. 10, the anniversary of Nobel’s death in 1896.

The Keystone Symposia was founded as the University of California Los Angeles Symposia ” by one of its professors ” in 1972. The name was changed in 1990, because there was no longer a connection with the school.

Its mission is to “serve as a catalyst for the advancement of biomedical and life sciences by connecting scientists within and across disciplines” to benefit society through generation of new ideas and exchange of information.

Finances for some of the meetings comes through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. For the March meetings, the foundation will help with travel expenses for about 60 to 80 scientists from developing countries.

Between September 2008 and June 2009, the Keystone Symposia will have organized 59 meetings in five countries, with about 16 of the meetings in Summit County, Aiken said.

The Associated Press contributed

to this report.

Robert Allen can be contacted

at (970) 668-4628 or

rallen@summitdaily.com.


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