Wendell Meredith Stanley
Born: 16 August 1904, Ridgeville, IN, USA
Died: 15 June 1971, Salamanca, Spain
Affiliation at the time of the award: Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, Princeton, NJ, USA
Prize motivation: "for their preparation of enzymes and virus proteins in a pure form"
Prize share: 1/4
Many infectious diseases are caused by viruses - very small biological particles. They are far too small to be visible under a microscope and could only be identified with the help of the symptoms they cause. Wendell Stanley studied the tobacco mosaic virus, which attacks the leaves of tobacco plants. From considerable quantities of infected tobacco leaves, he succeeded in extracting the virus in the form of pure crystals in 1935. Through further research, Wendell Stanley was able to show that the tobacco mosaic virus is composed of protein and ribonucleic acid, or RNA.