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May 2009

D. Carleton Gajdusek, MD (1923-2008)

Arch Neurol. 2009;66(5):675-677. doi:10.1001/archneurol.2009.73

I first learned of the groundbreaking work with kuru by D. Carleton Gajdusek, MD, when I was a neurology resident in the early 1960s. Fascinated by geographical isolates myself, I went on to read of his investigations of other isolates: the muscular dystrophy in New Britain, Papua New Guinea; the Vilyuisk encephalitis in Siberia; the genetic diseases of Australia. When I went to Guam in the 1990s to study the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis–parkinsonism-dementia disease there, which Gajdusek had investigated a decade earlier, I wrote to him to ask for his papers on the subject.