Luc Montagnier became famous in 1983 when his research team at the Pasteur Institute in Paris discovered the virus that causes AIDS. The 66-year-old scientist divides his time between Paris and Queens College in New York, where he is a professor of molecular and cellular biology. Most of his work now focuses on developing an AIDS vaccine.
Q:If not a scientist, what would you have been?
A:I would have been a writer of novels and philosophical essays, or perhaps a composer.
Q:What other planet would you like to visit?
A:A trip around Saturn's rings would be fabulous--with a Johann Strauss waltz as musical background.
Q:What is your greatest fear?
A:To die without accomplishing my scientific goals: an AIDS vaccine and a cure for cancer.
Q:What is your greatest love?
A:The opposite sex, although science is a demanding mistress.
Q:What is your favorite music?
A:The symphonies of Beethoven and Mahler, Mozart's Don Giovanni, and Scott Joplin's ragtime.
Q:If you could time-travel, where would you go?
A:I would like to be transported, with my lab tools, back 3 million years to study how some bizarre primates became human. I'd also like to go back 3.5 billion years to see the origin of life.
Q:Which historical figure would you most like to invite to a dinner party?
A:The anonymous young wife of a sixteenth-century Italian merchant. I fell in love with her portrait, painted by Domenico Ghirlandajo, when I first saw it at the Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon.
Q:If money were your goal, what field would you switch to?
A:I can't envisage money as a goal. It's just a tool, a very potent tool! I badly need money now to accelerate my projects on AIDS vaccines. Donors, investors, please come to see me!
Q:Do you think that an effective vaccine for AIDS will ever be developed?
A:Yes. This will be the only way to eradicate the epidemic.