Some Personal Memories of Bob Chanock

Author(s): John Mills.

Journal Name: Infectious Disorders - Drug Targets

Volume 12 , Issue 2 , 2012

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Abstract:

This issue of Infectious Disorders - Drug Targets, with a series of important papers on respiratory syncytial virus, is dedicated to Dr. Robert Chanock.

For about a half century, Robert Merritt Chanock (known universally as “Bob Chanock”, or occasionally as just “Chanock”), was a dominant figure in international virology, and arguably the dominant figure in the world of respiratory virology.

Chanock’s many scientific achievements have been cataloged in numerous obituaries, notably those in the New York Times by Dr Larry Altman, the Washington Post by Emma Brown, and in the Journal of Infectious Diseases (2011; 203:3-5) by colleagues Al Kapikian, David Morens and Tony Fauci. His laboratory – often with external collaborators - contributed significantly to the field of mycoplasmology, and made seminal discoveries in relation to hepatitis, gastrointestinal and respiratory virology. He and his collaborators connected respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) with the infant bronchiolitis syndrome and Mycoplasma pneumonia with atypical pneumonia; he discovered the paramyxoviruses which caused croup and other respiratory illnesses, co-discovered (with David Tyrrell) many strains of the two major agents of “colds”, rhinoviruses and coronaviruses, and discovered noroviruses (originally named “Norwalk virus”) which are perhaps the commonest cause of gastrointestinal illness in humans. His laboratory developed unique, live adenovirus vaccines, attenuated by enteric coating, which were widely used by the US military for prevention of pneumonia due to adenovirus types 4, 7 and 21. Although his laboratory made major efforts to develop vaccines for influenza and RSV, and the principle of live, attenuated vaccines as protective agents for these respiratory infections was established by his lab, success ultimately evaded him (although a live, attenuated influenza vaccine was subsequently developed by others). Chanock’s group did, however, develop a neutralizing monoclonal antibody to the RSV fusion protein (palivizumab) which is now FDA approved to prevent RSV infection in high-risk infants, and his laboratory played an important role in the development of vaccines against hepatitis A and rotavirus infections. He co-authored over 500 publications and was a co-editor of Fields’ Virology, the principal textbook of virology. Many dozens of scientists – MDs and PhDs – passed through his laboratory and learned from him, sometimes staying and sometimes leaving to go on to distinguished careers in virology at other institutions. And his list of international collaborators would run to many dozens as well....

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Article Details

VOLUME: 12
ISSUE: 2
Year: 2012
Page: [87 - 90]
Pages: 4
DOI: 10.2174/187152612800100152
Price: $58

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