D. Carleton Gajdusek, a virologist and anthropologist who won the 1976 Nobel Prize for his work on the infectious brain agents now known as prions, died last Friday (Dec. 12) in Tromso, Norway. He was 85. "He was a genius," linkurl:Robert Klitzman,;http://www.cumc.columbia.edu/dept/bec/staff/klitzman.html a psychiatrist at Columbia University in New York and Gajdusek's biographer, told __The Scientist__. "His brain was faster and at a higher level than anyone I've ever met." In the 1950s, linkurl:Gajdusek;http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1976/gajdusek-autobio.html (pronounced Guy-dah-shek) began studying the linkurl:Fore people;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fore_(people)
of the New Guinea highlands, a cannibalistic tribe that suffered from a neurological disorder known as "kuru," which left victims brains riddled with spongy holes. He suspected that the disease was transmitted by the Fore custom of ritualistically eating the brains of deceased ancestors, but he could not find ordinary signs of any pathogenic organism. He injected mashed brains from kuru victims into chimpanzees' brains, and when the chimps...
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