Memoir

Ludwik Gross

Veterans Affairs Medical Center

September 11, 1904 - July 19, 1999


Election Year: 1973
Scientific Discipline: Medical Genetics, Hematology, and Oncology
Membership Type: Member

Virologist Ludwik Gross outlined the mechanism through which a virus causes leukemia in mice. Finding that the virus was transmitted through the ovum, he coined the term “vertical transmission” to describe how a virus spreads from the parental organism to its offspring. In addition, he identified another cancer inducing virus, polyomavirus, which causes cancer in multiple tissue types. These discoveries led to research and discussion about the role of viruses in causing cancer in humans and to the development of important tools in cancer research.

Gross earned his M.D. from Iagellon University in Krakow, Poland in 1929 and began his residency at St. Lazar General Hospital. In 1932 he did post-graduate cancer research at the Pasteur Institute at the University of Paris, where he remained until 1939. When World War II began he left Europe to become a research associate at the Institute of Medical Research at Christ Hospital in Cincinnati. He remained there until 1943 when he entered military service as a medical officer for the United States. He was chief of the cancer research unit at the Bronx Veterans Administration Hospital and a research professor of medicine at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.

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