Obama names virologist Varmus to science team

President-elect Barack Obama has named Harold Varmus as a co-chair of the Presidents’ Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), a team that will work with White House science adviser John Holdren. Varmus won a Nobel Prize in 1989 for his work on elucidating how retroviruses cause transformation of cells. He is currently president and chief executive …

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100th anniversary of the isolation of poliovirus

  Yesterday, 18 December, marked 100 years since Karl Landsteiner, MD and his assistant E. Popper, identified the viral etiologic agent of poliomyelitis. According to A History of Poliomyelitis by JR Paul:   …at a medical meeting in Vienna on December 18, 1908, the immunologist Landsteiner and his assistant Popper were able to demonstrate microscopic …

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D. Carleton Gajdusek, 85

Virologist D. Carleton Gajdusek, who was awarded the 1976 Nobel Prize in medicine for unraveling the nature of the prion disease Kuru, has died, as reported by the New York Times. Gajdusek’s work on Kuru, a fatal encephalopathy found in the Fore people of New Guinea, proved that human transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) could be …

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Polio is spreading

Today’s NY Times reports that cases of wild polio (as opposed to vaccine-induced polio) are appearing in new countries, and increasing numbers are occurring in countries that are endemic for the disease. Article link here. A disease is ‘endemic’ in a country when it is maintained without introduction from other countries. Polio is considered to …

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