Daniel Carleton Gajdusek

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Daniel Carleton Gajdusek was a well-known researcher and doctor. He was the first person to describe the central nervous system in detail from a medical point of view. His research on neurological diseases, such as degenerative Parkinson’s, and on “Kuru,” a brain disease caused by prions that no one knows how to stop, changed medicine in big, good ways. Gajdusek started working at the National Institute of Health in 1958. There, he did many tests and studies on this disease until he retired. Gajdusek was also given a Nobel Prize in 1976, which he shared with another researcher, Baruch S. Blumberg, for the good work he did on the subject. Gajdusek’s work was accepted by the medical community, and people knew that he didn’t believe in cannibalism, which was common at the time. Gajdusek worked in Iran, Australia, and the US to study this contagious disease and wrote a number of reports about it. Gajdusek did a lot of research on the subject of “Kuru,” and he also offered to take in more than 50 male children, teach them, and pay for their college educations. Keep reading to learn more.

Children and Schooling

Daniel Carleton Gajdusek was born in Yonkers, New York, on September 9, 1923. His father, Karol Gajdusek, was a butcher. Daniel Carleton Gajdusek went to different schools in the area and was interested in science from a young age. Gajdusek, like his mother, was an avid reader.

He also had the chance to travel all over the world. Gajdusek traveled to the mysterious lands of the Orient when he was very young. He also took short courses in Egyptology, natural history, entomology, geology, botany, literature, and the arts. When he was 16, he also got a part-time job at the Boyce Thompson Laboratories to learn more about how acids are made.

Gajdusek went to college at the University of Rochester when he was 18. He took classes in math, chemistry, physics, and biology. In 1943, he got his diploma here. Then, in 1946, he went to Harvard University and got his M.D. Gajdusek decided to keep learning after this, so he did post-doctoral research at Columbia University and the California Institute of Technology.

Start of a Job

Gajdusek was sent to Walter Reed Army Medical Center as a virologist in 1950 after he finished his studies. Gajdusek worked part-time as a medical assistant at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia, in 1954. Here is where he started working on the disease “Kuru,” which won him the Nobel Prize.
Gajdusek’s Work On ‘Kuru’

Vincent Zigas, a medical officer in the district of New Guinea, told Gajdusek about the disease Kuru. It is thought that this virus affected the brain and other parts of the central nervous system. It was common in the Fore Tribe region of New Guinea.

Gajdusek was very interested in the topic, so he decided to do more research to see if he could find a solution. He said that the disease was caused by the Fore tribe’s practice of eating dead people at funerals. Gajdusek spoke out against the practice of cannibalism, and his peers backed him up a lot. Within a single generation, the disease was gone for good.

The Fore tribes called Kuru “laughing sickness” because people who had it laughed a lot. Gajdusek lived with the Fore tribe, learned about their culture, and did autopsies on the bodies of people who had died because of Kuru in order to learn more about the subject.

Gajdusek finally found out that the disease spread because people in this area ate the brains of people who had died from Kuru. This was a common thing to do. So, Gajdusek was able to show that a certain viral disease spreads easily from person to person around the world.

After finding out that the disease was fatal, Gajdusek wanted to find out more about how the infection worked on a biological level. After that, he noticed a similarity between “scrapie,” a disease that affects goats and sheep for no clear reason, and the Kuru disease. Together with Stanley Prusiner, he came to the conclusion that the diseases were caused by abnormal proteins called “prions.”

A Later Stages

All of Gajdusek’s medical findings of “Kuru” were accepted by most doctors around the world. But there were many arguments about whether or not cannibalism was still happening when he lived with the Fore tribe to study the disease. Gajdusek said many times that he had never seen cannibalism in person and that he would never let it happen if he did.

Arens and Gajdusek say that things began to get better in the Fore region after Europeans moved there in 1961. Gajdusek said near the end of his life that cannibalism wasn’t the only reason why the Kuru disease happened. His last theory was that women who ate people kept bits of the brain under their nails, and when they brushed or combed their hair or the hair of their children, the disease spread through touch.

After doing a lot of research and studying in the field of Kuru, Gajdusek became the head of the National Institute of Health’s laboratories for neurological and viral research in 1958. In 1974, he was added to the National Academy of Sciences for microbial biology.

His Personal Life

There have been a number of arguments about Daniel Carleton Gajdusek’s life.
When he came back from one of his trips with 56 male children to live with him in the United States, this caused a lot of trouble. He told them that they would go to high school and college.

One of these boys, who is now an adult, told the police that Gajdusek sexually abused him when he was a child. In 1996, Gajdusek was arrested and charged with molesting a child after the victim told police what happened and police found evidence in Gajdusek’s diary.

Gajdusek was put in jail for a year near the end of his life. After that, he never went back to the US again. He spent the rest of his life in Amsterdam and Troms, Norway. Gajdusek was interested in incest and molestation, and he had sexual encounters with younger boys. He said this openly.

What’s Left Behind

Daniel Carleton Gajdusek died in Troms, Norway, on December 12, 2008. He was 85 years old when he died, and he was still working when he did. Gajdusek’s work on Kuru and his discovery of it are still used by medical institutions all over the world.

Estimated Net worth

Daniel Carleton Gajdusek’s estimated net worth is $1 million. His main sources of income are as a biologist, virologist, anthropologist, and physician. We don’t know enough about Daniel Carleton Gajdusek’s house, cars, or life style.