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. Their collaboration and friendship was described in Cold War Triangle: How Scientists in East and West Tamed HIV

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.

Erik De Clercq's Tribute to John C. Martin    


John C. Martin died unexpectedly and suddenly on the evening of the 30th 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.

In July 2006, I coined the name Holý Trinity, shortly after we had celebrated the launching of Atripla ® by Gilead Sciences. Tony Holý and I traveled by train (“Pendolino”) from Prague to Olomouc, at the far East of Czechia.  There I was, deeply impressed by the monument in 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 organic Chemistry (A. Holý), Biomedicine (myself) and Industry (represented by J.C. Martin, also an organic chemist).


I had met A. Holý and started to collaborate with him before we ever met John. Thanks to the enthusiasm of John C. Martin, 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 to save 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 this visionary entrepreneur upheaved those efforts to a worldwide dimension to the benefit of human health and mankind.

Erik De Clercq       03 April 2021

Email address:



Rega Institute for Medical Research

Herestraat 49 - box 1030

3000 Leuven



+32 16 379020

Erik De Clercq and Antonin Holy

Antonin Holy and Erik De Clercq became co-inventors of a key class of antiviral drugs a.o. Tenofovir to combat the HIV virus