Gertrude Henle

University of Pennsylvania

April 3, 1912 - September 1, 2006

Scientific Discipline: Medical Genetics, Hematology, and Oncology
Membership Type:
Emeritus (elected 1979)

Gertrude Henle contributed greatly to the study of virology. She is perhaps best known for her research on the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), done along with her husband, fellow virologist Werner Henle. The couple discovered the correlation between EBV and Burkitt’s lymphoma, nasopharyngeal carcinoma, and mononucleosis. This monumental discovery led to the conclusion that viruses had the ability to turn cells from healthy to malignant. Henle also produced significant research on mumps, which laid the foundation for mass production of a vaccine.

Henle earned her medical doctorate from the University of Heidelberg in 1936. In 1937 she immigrated to Pennsylvania, where she became a member of the University of Pennsylvania’s Microbiology Department. In 1941 Henle and her husband assumed roles as associate professors of virology and began to conduct research at Philadelphia’s Children’s Hospital. The pair received numerous awards and acclaim for their research.

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