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EM. PROF. ERIK DE CLERCQ

Welcome to the official website of Em. Prof. Erik De Clercq, a pioneer in antiviral therapies who co-invented, together with Prof. Antonín Holý (IOCB Prague, Czech Republic), a key class of drugs to combat HIV. They were developed thanks to Dr. John C. Martin and his team at Gilead Sciences. 

This website is supported by “The Friends of the Rega Institute” to celebrate Prof. De Clercq's 50 years of commitment to the Rega Institute and its biomedical achievements.

Message from Erik De Clercq reflecting on the death of John C. Martin  

 

John C. Martin died unexpectedly and suddenly on the evening of 30 March 2021. With him we are losing a monument in science. He was the third member of the triumvirate consisting of Antonín Holý, John C. Martin and myself, which, disregarding religion, I had given the symbolic name of Holý Trinity and which later featured as the Triangle in the book of Renilde Loeckx Cold War Triangle: How scientists in East and West tamed HIV, (Leuven University Press, 2017, 186 pages).

 

In July 2006, I coined the name Holý Trinity, shortly after we had celebrated the launching of the triple drug combination Atripla® by Gilead Sciences in Prague. Tony Holý and I traveled by train (“Pendolino”) to Olomouc, at the far East of Czechia. There I was, deeply impressed by the monument at the central square of the City, which Tony Holý revealed to me as the “Holy Trinity”. Almost instantly, I thought of naming our close collaboration as the Holý Trinity, thereby symbolising the successful cooperation between the organic chemistry (A. Holý), Biomedicine (myself) and Industry (represented by J.C. Martin, also an organic chemist).

 

I had met A. Holý in 1976 and started to collaborate with him before we ever met John C. Martin, but thanks to his enthusiasm, our collaboration grew to an enterprise that eventually led to one of the most effective medicines in the treatment and prophylaxis of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and HBV (hepatitis B virus) infection, helping saving the lives of millions of people worldwide.

Through his dedication, vision and tenacity, John provided a global implementation to the originally small scale endeavours of a superbly talented chemist (Holý) collaborating with a modest medical doctor (myself). The help of a visionary entrepreneur (J.C. Martin) upheaved those efforts to a worldwide dimension to the benefit of human health and mankind.

 

Erik De Clercq 03 April 2021