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An international icon in Immunology has fallen

23 September 2015

Today Professor Graham Le Gros learned of the death of his friend and mentor Dr Bill Paul in Washington DC, aged 79.  He was an international icon in the world of immunology, long-time laboratory chief at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the author of upwards of 600 scientific papers. 

He lent his leadership to NIH-sponsored AIDS scientific activities from 1994 to 1997 when prior to that there had been neither a comprehensive plan nor a unified budget to steer America’s approach to the disease. 

Professor Le Gros says,"Dr Paul, took me on as Fogarty-funded Postdoctoral fellow in 1987, at NIH Washington DC. He inspired and cultivated greatness in everyone and became a lifelong mentor and friend who has been a great supporter of the Malaghan Institute in New Zealand."

“He was generous in every aspect of his life from the time he gave to inspire those who were lucky enough to know him, to the lasting contribution he has made to humanity."

“We are experiencing a new wave in our approach to disease, in using our body’s own brilliant design to stimulate the immune system to battle disease.  Some of the newer drugs to treat cancer rely on the body of work that Dr Paul has left behind. His work over five decades has helped clarify the roles and the behaviours of the central players in our immune system. We are now on a journey towards newer, safer, kinder approaches to diseases ranging from allergic responses, asthma, auto-immune diseases and cancer, because of Bill.”

Earlier this year he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia. He died while undergoing preparations for a bone marrow transplant.  

“Many people will be aware of the saying attributed to Sir Isaac Newtown, that us ‘dwarfs’ are able to see further because we stand on the shoulders of giants.  Bill was such person, a giant, and I count myself as fortunate to have known him in every respect.  Today we send our love and our thanks to his wife Marilyn and his family. Our work at the Malaghan Institute would not be possible without him.”