Françoise Barré-Sinoussi


Françoise Barré-Sinoussi

© The Nobel Foundation. Photo: U. Montan

Françoise Barré-Sinoussi
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2008

Born: 30 July 1947, Paris, France

Affiliation at the time of the award: Regulation of Retroviral Infections Unit, Virology Department, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France

Prize motivation: “for their discovery of human immunodeficiency virus”

Prize share: 1/4


Françoise Barré-Sinoussi has always loved nature and spent her school vacations observing animals and plants in the parks of her home town of Paris, France. According to Barré-Sinoussi herself, it was by accident that she eventually ended up working at the prestigious Institut Pasteur. She comes from a humble background and was forced to choose the shortest and cheapest education available. Barré-Sinoussi began working at Paris' Institut Pasteur as a volunteer and received her PhD in 1975. Her work with HIV has often been carried out on site in developing countries.


Retroviruses are viruses whose genomes consist of RNA and whose genes can be incorporated into host cells' DNA. In 1983, Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Luc Montaigner discovered a retrovirus in patients with swollen lymph glands that attacked lymphocytes–a kind of blood cell that is very important to the body's immune system. The retrovirus, later named Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), proved to be the cause of the immunodeficiency disease AIDS. This discovery has been crucial in radically improving treatment methods for AIDS sufferers.

To cite this section
MLA style: Françoise Barré-Sinoussi – Facts. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2023. Mon. 25 Sep 2023. <>

Back to top Back To Top Takes users back to the top of the page

Coming up

This year’s Nobel Prize announcements will take place 2–9 October. All announcements will be streamed live here on

See the full schedule
Announcement dates

Explore prizes and laureates

Look for popular awards and laureates in different fields, and discover the history of the Nobel Prize.

Explore and learn