Daniel Carleton Gajdusek life and biography

Daniel Carleton Gajdusek picture, image, poster

Daniel Carleton Gajdusek biography

Date of birth : 1923-09-09
Date of death : 2008-12-12
Birthplace : New York City,U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Science and Technology
Last modified : 2011-12-20
Credited as : Physician, work on kuru, Nobel laureate

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Daniel Carleton Gajdusek was an American physician and medical researcher who was the co-recipient (with Baruch S. Blumberg) of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1976 for work on kuru, the first human prion disease demonstrated to be infectious.

Gajdusek studied child growth, development, and disease patterns in primitive cultures. He became the world's foremost expert on kuru, a fatal disease of the nervous system, which occurred only among Melanesian people in the 1950s and '60s. Gajdusek correctly ascertained that the disease -- similar to Creutzfeldt-Jacob or "mad cow disease" -- was caused by an extraordinarily slow-acting virus, and spread by the Fore tribe's practice of eating the brains of its dead. Once the locals were convinced to give up this practice, the disease was eliminated. For his work, Gajdusek received the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology in 1976, sharing the award with Baruch S. Blumberg, who conducted unrelated research into hepatitis.

In his numerous trips to third world countries, Gajdusek brought several dozen young boys back to America, where they lived with him. He referred to them as his adopted sons. In 1996, one of these boys, by then an adult, accused Gajdusek of having molested him as a child. Gajdusek proclaimed his innocence, but then pled guilty to sexual abuse of a child; served one year in prison, and was allowed to spend the subsequent five years of probation in Europe.

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