Wendell M. Stanley

August 16, 1904 - June 15, 1971


Election Year: 1941
Scientific Discipline: Biochemistry
Membership Type: Member

Wendell Stanley focused much of his biochemical research on the structure and function of biphenyl and sterols. He won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1946 for his work with the tobacco mosaic virus, which shed light on viral behavior. He was able to isolate and crystallize the nucleoprotein within the virus, single-stranded RNA, and observed that though it appeared to be an inactive chemical it still showed characteristics of life. His work demonstrated that viruses are not living organisms because they lack components essential for metabolic function.

Stanley received his MS degree in 1927 from the University of Illinois and earned his PhD in chemistry in 1929. He worked in Munich as a National Research Council fellow until 1931. He became an assistant at the Rockefeller Institute, an associate member in 1937, and a member in 1940, and remained there until 1948, when he was appointed professor of biochemistry and director of the virus laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. He served as Biochemistry Department chairman from 1948 to 1953 and Virology Department chairman and professor of virology in 1958.

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