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Retroviruses are potent disease agents, but they have also served as invaluable research tools in molecular biology. In 1979, the molecular biologist Richard Mulligan used a genetically altered retrovirus to trigger the production of hemoglobin in vitro by monkey kidney cells. His technique for using retroviruses to import alien genes into cells has been widely adopted. Medical researchers have also explored retroviral transport as a means of gene therapy. However, evidence suggesting that retroviruses may play a role in carcinogenesis raises questions as to the safety of their use in gene therapy. see oncogene.