Photo: Courtesy of Robin Weiss

Robin Weiss characterizes himself as a "one-track scientist." He researches "retroviruses, retroviruses, retroviruses." His colleagues, however, say he's a scientist's scientist who combines his prodigious knowledge with a propensity to ask questions others might not for fear of rocking the boat.

Take, for example, the day in March 2001 when Weiss gave the Leeuwenhoek lecture at the London School of Tropical Medicine. According to Robert May, president of The Royal Society, who introduced him, "He began by asking those in the audience who held an organ donor card to raise their hand, and then admonishing those who did not. He followed this by putting on a containment suit and lecturing in it."

Currently professor of viral oncology at University College London, Weiss is "much more than one of the world's leading researchers in the general field of virology," May says. "He is also one...

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