Daniel Karlton Gaidusek

Picture of Daniel Karlton Gaidusek

Date of Birth: 09/09/1923

Age: 92

Birthplace: Yonkers

Citizenship: United States


However, unlike his brother, who later became a poet and critic, G. soon began to take an interest in math and science. As a child, he would spend long hours at the Institute for the Study of Plant Boyce Thompson in Yonkers, where she worked as an entomologist his aunt Irene Dobrotski. During his school years he spent there all summer, and this passion has led to the fact that he decided to study physics, biology and mathematics at the University of Rochester, which he entered in 1940, when 16-year-old boys. After graduation in 1943 with a Bachelor of Science in biophysics, he was accepted at Harvard Medical School, which three years later was awarded a medical degree.

Although G. childhood was going to engage in medical research, however, he became interested in clinical pediatrics. "Children fascinated me - he admitted later - and their medical problems ... seem more intractable than in adults." These reasons prompted him to take the post of a doctor at Children`s Hospital Boston and New York, after which he took a two-year internship in physical chemistry at the California Institute of Technology, where he worked with Linus C. Pauling and other researchers, have had a huge impact in t .ch. George W. Beadle and Max Delbruck. From 1949 to 1952 he was involved in virological research laboratory at Harvard`s John F. Enders, at the same time being a Fellow of the National Infantile Paralysis Foundation.

In 1952 he was drafted into the army and served for two years in the Army Medical center Walter Reed. Two subsequent to dismissal from the army, he held at the Pasteur Institute in Tehran (Iran), studying infectious diseases (such as rabies, plague) and scurvy. These studies led him to Australia, where in 1954 he was engaged in virology with the Macfarlane Burnet Institute for Medical Research at the Walter and Eliza Hall in Melbourne.

By studying the development of children and the spread of diseases among the indigenous population of Australia and New Guinea, he met with Mr. Vincent Zigasom, an employee of the Australian health service. Zigas said H. Fore tribe of - people living in mountainous areas in the east of New Guinea, and stopped in its development at the level of the Stone Age. Many members of this tribe suffered a fatal degenerative disease of the brain, which they called "kuru" and that anyone and has never been studied. However Zigasom G. settled among tribe members learned their language, and spent a year with them, starting the study of unusual disease.

In 1958, he became head of the laboratory of the National Institute of nervous and mental diseases related to the system of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in Bethesda (Maryland), while continuing to study "kuru" the disease in New Guinea and returning there at least not at least once a year.

G. Zigas and initially believed that "hen" is caused by a virus. However, they were unable to identify the causative agent or cause disease in animals by conventional virologic methods. Since the disease appeared to be struck by the same family members, scientists then came to the assumption that the complex genetic nature of the disease. However, in 1959, a specialist in diseases of the nervous system in animals William Hadlow (who studied the nervous tissue disease) from the lab, "Rocky Mountain" NIH, the study analyzed the results of "kuru", stressed that the symptoms of "kuru" similar to those of scrapie, a degenerative neurological sheep disease. Scrapie is exceptionally long periods of incubation period - usually years passed between potentially infected animals and appearance of the first symptoms of the disease and its causative agent is called slow virus. Although this disease could be passed from one animal to another, scrapie virus was isolated.

G. realized that the path of transmission "kuru" can also be explained by a slow virus. The Fore tribe practiced ritual cannibalism: after the death of a deceased relative surviving members of the family ate in a sign of respect of his brain. This practice provides a direct route of transmission of the virus. In 1963, he began experiments on transplanting samples of brain tissue from the dead "kuru" people apes: two years from the first of the experimental animals showed signs of disease. Initially G. experimented in chimpanzees, but then he could infect "kuru" also lower monkeys.

Successes pushed G. and his colleagues to look for slow viruses as possible causes of other degenerative brain and spinal cord changes. By 1971, the results were obtained, indicating that the disease of Creutzfeldt - Jakob disease (CJD) could be transmitted to animals. This is a rare degenerative disease of the brain and spinal cord has symptoms similar to "kuru", and distributed worldwide.

Conducted studies G. scrapie "kuru" CJD and showed that all of the diseases caused by slow viruses, have a number of other important characteristics common, among a long incubation period. While conventional viral infection accompanied usually severe immune response characterized by inflammation, fever, antibody production and interferon, slow viruses, do not seem to cause such reactions.

The most startling and controversial results of slow virus research focused their structure. Other known viruses consisted of small amounts of nucleic acids - deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) or ribonucleic (RNA), - enclosed in a protein coat. The protein acts as a means of transporting a nucleic acid into a host cell where it is incorporated into the cellular mechanism for the formation of new viruses. Slow viruses, however, can not be inactivated by such therapeutic agents, such as formaldehyde, ultraviolet radiation or high temperatures that destroy nucleic acids and the majority of viruses deprived of infectivity. Viruses can be infinitely small, but still visible in the electron microscope. However, electron-microscopic study of diseases caused by slow viruses, have not led to the detection of virus-like particles.

All these facts have convinced Mr. and other scientists that slow viruses represent a fundamentally new causative agent: infectious protein. Minor protein bands detected in the infected slow brain viruses are thought to cause disease and are. It is unclear, however, what exactly caused by abnormalities in the formation of abnormal shape or the number of cellular proteins: cellular disorders or unusual properties of the protein (eg, the cells ability to reproduce itself). Protein bands strikingly similar to the structures formed in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer`s disease or senile dementia, in which changes in the brain cause the deterioration of mental activity; These diseases may be caused by too slow spontaneous or defective virus whose action is similar to that of slow viruses.

G. shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 1976 with Baruch S. Blumberg, "for the discovery of new mechanisms for the origin and dissemination of infectious diseases." G. was awarded not for the fact that he had discovered the origin of "kuru", but for the fact that his research has led "to the recognition of a new category of human diseases caused by infectious agents, unique," - said in his welcoming speech Erling Norby of the Karolinska Institute.

G. continues to work at the NIH, alternating slow laboratory studies of viruses with expeditions in Melanesia, Micronesia and Papua New Guinea. A man of vast knowledge and interests, G. is also known for his work in anthropology and child psychology. He is single, but has a lot of adopted children - 27 boys and one girl from various Pacific populations, in several languages ??which it owns, in addition to Russian, German, French, Spanish and Slovak. He gave most of his collection of primitive art in the Peabody Museum of Salem (Massachusetts).

In addition to the Nobel Prize, awarded by G. Mead Johnson, the American Academy of Pediatrics (1963). He is a member of the Society for Pediatric Research, American Pediatric Society, the National Academy of Sciences. American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Neurology. He is an honorary member of the Colombian, Mexican and the Slovak Academy of Medicine.