We all have our Science heroes that we look up and draw inspiration from. Men & women who give us concepts and tools to make sense of our complex world. Tell us who your science hero is, and we will share Your Story with the world. #ScienceHero
Story by Folashade Adebayo
My science hero is Gero Hutter, an oncologist who gave the world the first individual to be functionally cured of AIDS.
I have never met Hutter, but as a journalist covering health, I have always followed developments in medical research.
By 2007, Hutter was not even involved in HIV/AIDS research. He was only one of thousands of bone marrow specialists across the world who were following HIV/AIDS research from the sidelines.
However, when Timothy Ray Brown, an AIDS patient, came to his clinic with leukaemia, an information Hutter had come across 10 years earlier as a medical student came in handy. Back then he had learnt about the CCR5 delta-32 deletion receptor which confers a natural resistance to HIV to a small group of people.
Brown needed a bone marrow transplant and Hutter decided to get donor cells from this small group of people with the magic receptor. It was a landmark experiment which would later re-engineer the nucleus of HIV/AIDS research.
Only a handful of people have been cured through this method, but I am struck by the ways in which routine knowledge and a good dose of courage can change the course of history, even if only for a small group of individuals.
Hutter’s work has taught us that anything is possible. It has taught us not to close the chapter on anything, as individuals and as societies. It has taught us that Ebola, Zika, cancer and other diseases can be defeated.
Gero Hutter is my science hero.
Folashade Adebayo is a Nigerian journalist with Punch, the most widely read newspaper in Nigeria. The award-winning journalist covers science, health and education stories beats. She has reported many health topics but the highlight of her career was covering the Ebola Virus Disease, which killed mostly medical workers in Nigeria. She was the recipient of the Nigeria Academy of Science Reporter of the year 2015.