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Nobel Prizes and Laureates

Nobel Prizes and Laureates

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1976
Baruch S. Blumberg, D. Carleton Gajdusek

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D. Carleton Gajdusek - Facts

D. Carleton Gajdusek

D. Carleton Gajdusek

Born: 9 September 1923, Yonkers, NY, USA

Died: 12 December 2008, Tromsø, Norway

Affiliation at the time of the award: National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA

Prize motivation: "for their discoveries concerning new mechanisms for the origin and dissemination of infectious diseases"

Field: disease transmission, epidemiology

Prize share: 1/2

Work

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and related illnesses among people and animals involves the degeneration of brain cells. Carleton Gajdusek studied kuru, a rare disease, among the Fore people of New Guinea. He arrived at the conclusion that kuru was spread through the ritualistic eating of deceased relatives. Carleton Gajdusek succeeded in transmitting the infection to chimpanzees in the 1960s. The long period, often several years, between exposure to the infection and contraction of the disease indicated that it involved a previously unknown type of infectious agent.

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