Dissecting a Virus


is the birthday of Wendell Stanley, an American biochemist born in 1904 who pioneered the study of viruses.

In 1935 at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research (now Rockefeller University), Stanley crystallized the tobacco mosaic virus and showed that it was made up of protein and nucleic acid molecules arranged in a rod-shaped complex. Using x-ray diffraction, he discovered the precise structures and modes of propagation for several other viruses, spurring other scientists to follow suit.

In 1946, Stanley received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry (with John Northrup and James Sumner). As director of the laboratory for virus research at the University of California, Berkeley, in the 1950s and 1960s, Stanley developed a vaccine against a group influenza viruses. He died in 1971.

[Source: Britannica Online]