Gajdusek, Daniel Carleton

Gajdusek, Daniel Carleton

(gīd`əshĕk'), 1923–2008, American virologist, b. Yonkers, N.Y., grad. Univ. of Rochester; M.D. Harvard, 1945. He worked in the United States, Iran, Australia, and Pacific Islands studying infectious diseases, especially prionprion
, abnormal form of a protein found in mammals, now generally believed to cause a group of diseases known as prion diseases or transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, which are rare progressive degenerative neurological disorders.
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 diseases and, in particular, kuru, a brain disease caused by prions and spread among the Fore people of New Guinea by ritual cannibalism. In 1958 he joined the National Institutes of Health, where he conducted research and headed (1970–97) the brain studies laboratory of the National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke. In 1976 he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Baruch S. BlumbergBlumberg, Baruch Samuel,
1925–2011, American biochemist and medical anthropologist, b. Brooklyn, N.Y., B.S. Union College, Schenectady, N.Y., 1946, M.D. Columbia, 1951, Ph.D. Oxford, 1957. From 1957 to 1964 he worked at the National Institutes of Health.
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Bibliography

See R. Klitzman, The Trembling Mountain (1998).

Gajdusek, Daniel Carleton

 

Born Sept. 9, 1923, in Yonkers, N. Y. American physician.

Gajdusek graduated from the medical department of the University of Rochester in 1943 and studied at Harvard University from 1949 to 1952. He worked at the Pasteur Institute in Tehran in 1954 and at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia, from 1955 to 1957. He began working at the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke of the US National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, Md., in 1958.

Gajdusek’s main works deal with pediatrics, genetics, and human evolution in isolated populations. He has also studied the pathophysiology of autoimmune diseases and degenerative diseases of the nervous system. His study of kuru disease, caused by a rampant virus infection in New Guinea, served as the basis for the modern study of slow virus infections.

Gajdusek was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1976.

WORKS

Acute Infections, Hemorrhagic Fevers and Mycotoxicoses in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Washington, 1953.
Slow, Latent and Temperate Virus Infections. [Washington] 1965. (Coauthor.)