Francis Peyton Rous

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Francis Peyton Rous
Peyton Rous nobel.jpg
Francis Peyton Rous
BornOctober 5, 1879
Baltimore, Maryland
DiedFebruary 16, 1970(1970-02-16) (aged 90)
New York City
Alma mater Johns Hopkins University, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Known for Oncoviruses
Scientific career
Fields Virology

Francis Peyton Rous ForMemRS [1] ( /rs/ ) (October 5, 1879 – February 16, 1970) was an American Nobel Prize-winning virologist.


Education and early life

Rous was born in Woodlawn, Maryland in 1879 and received his B.A. and M.D. from Johns Hopkins University. [2]

Woodlawn, Baltimore County, Maryland Census-designated place in Maryland, United States

Woodlawn is an unincorporated community and census-designated place in Baltimore County, Maryland, United States. The population was 37,879 at the 2010 census. It is home to the headquarters of the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). It is bordered by Catonsville on the south, by the Patapsco River and Howard County on the west, by Randallstown and Lochearn to the north, and by the City of Baltimore to the east. Parts of Woodlawn are sometimes informally referred to as Security, Maryland, due to the importance of the SSA's headquarters as well as nearby Security Boulevard and Security Square Mall.

Johns Hopkins University Private research university in Baltimore, Maryland

Johns Hopkins University is a private research university in Baltimore, Maryland. Founded in 1876, the university was named for its first benefactor, the American entrepreneur, abolitionist, and philanthropist Johns Hopkins. His $7 million bequest —of which half financed the establishment of Johns Hopkins Hospital—was the largest philanthropic gift in the history of the United States up to that time. Daniel Coit Gilman, who was inaugurated as the institution's first president on February 22, 1876, led the university to revolutionize higher education in the U.S. by integrating teaching and research. Adopting the concept of a graduate school from Germany's ancient Heidelberg University, Johns Hopkins University is considered the first research university in the United States. Over the course of several decades, the university has led all U.S. universities in annual research and development expenditures. In fiscal year 2016, Johns Hopkins spent nearly $2.5 billion on research.

Career and research

Rous was involved in the discovery of the role of viruses in the transmission of certain types of cancer. On October 13, 1966 he was awarded a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work.

Virus Type of non-cellular infectious agent

A virus is a small infectious agent that replicates only inside the living cells of an organism. Viruses can infect all types of life forms, from animals and plants to microorganisms, including bacteria and archaea.

Cancer disease of uncontrolled, unregulated and abnormal cell growth

Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. These contrast with benign tumors, which do not spread. Possible signs and symptoms include a lump, abnormal bleeding, prolonged cough, unexplained weight loss and a change in bowel movements. While these symptoms may indicate cancer, they can also have other causes. Over 100 types of cancers affect humans.

Nobel Prize set of annual international awards, primarily 5 established in 1895 by Alfred Nobel

The Nobel Prize is a set of annual international awards bestowed in several categories by Swedish and Norwegian institutions in recognition of academic, cultural, or scientific advances.

In 1911, as a pathologist he made his seminal observation, that a malignant tumor (specifically, a sarcoma) growing on a domestic chicken could be transferred to another fowl simply by exposing the healthy bird to a cell-free filtrate. [3] [4] This finding, that cancer could be transmitted by a virus (now known as the Rous sarcoma virus, a retrovirus), was widely discredited by most of the field's experts at that time. Since he was a relative newcomer, it was several years before anyone even tried to replicate his prescient results. Although clearly some influential researchers were impressed enough to nominate him to the Nobel Committee as early as 1926 (and in many subsequent years, until he finally received the award, 40 years later).

Rous sarcoma virus (RSV) is a retrovirus and is the first oncovirus to have been described: it causes sarcoma in chickens.

Awards and honors

In addition to the Nobel Prize, Peyton Rous was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (ForMemRS) in 1940, [1] he won the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research in 1958 and the National Medal of Science in 1965.

The Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research is one of the prizes awarded by the Lasker Foundation for the outstanding discovery, Contribution and achievement in the field of medicine and Human Physiology. The award frequently precedes a Nobel Prize in Medicine: almost 50% of the winners have gone on to win one.

National Medal of Science award

The National Medal of Science is an honor bestowed by the President of the United States to individuals in science and engineering who have made important contributions to the advancement of knowledge in the fields of behavioral and social sciences, biology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics and physics. The twelve member presidential Committee on the National Medal of Science is responsible for selecting award recipients and is administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Personal life

In his later life he wrote biographies of Simon Flexner [5] and Karl Landsteiner. [6]

Simon Flexner American scientist

Simon Flexner, M.D. was a physician, scientist, administrator, and professor of experimental pathology at the University of Pennsylvania (1899–1903). He served as the first director of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research (1901–1935) and a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation. He was also a friend and adviser to John D. Rockefeller Jr..

Karl Landsteiner Austrian biologist, physicist and Nobel Prize laureate

Karl Landsteiner,, was an Austrian biologist, physician, and immunologist. He distinguished the main blood groups in 1900, having developed the modern system of classification of blood groups from his identification of the presence of agglutinins in the blood, and identified, with Alexander S. Wiener, the Rhesus factor, in 1937, thus enabling physicians to transfuse blood without endangering the patient's life. With Constantin Levaditi and Erwin Popper, he discovered the polio virus in 1909. He received the Aronson Prize in 1926. In 1930, he received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He was posthumously awarded the Lasker Award in 1946, and has been described as the father of transfusion medicine.

His wife Marion died in 1985. His daughter Marni Hodgkin was a children's book editor, and the wife of another Nobel Prize winner, Alan Lloyd Hodgkin. [7]

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An oncovirus is a virus that can cause cancer. This term originated from studies of acutely transforming retroviruses in the 1950–60s, often called oncornaviruses to denote their RNA virus origin. It now refers to any virus with a DNA or RNA genome causing cancer and is synonymous with "tumor virus" or "cancer virus". The vast majority of human and animal viruses do not cause cancer, probably because of longstanding co-evolution between the virus and its host. Oncoviruses have been important not only in epidemiology, but also in investigations of cell cycle control mechanisms such as the retinoblastoma protein.

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Charles Brenton Huggins American physiologist

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A transmissible cancer is a cancer cell or cluster of cancer cells that can be transferred between individuals without the involvement of an infectious agent, such as an oncovirus. Transmission of cancer between humans is rare.

v-Src is a gene found in Rous sarcoma virus that encodes a tyrosine kinase that causes a type of cancer in chickens.

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Marion "Marni" Hodgkin, Lady Hodgkin was an American children's book editor. She was regarded as one of the notable and influential children's book editors of the 1960s. She was the daughter of Francis Peyton Rous and wife of Alan Lloyd Hodgkin, both Nobel Prize winners.


  1. 1 2 3 Andrewes, C. H. (1971). "Francis Peyton Rous. 1879-1970". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 17: 643–662. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1971.0025. ISSN   0080-4606. PMID   11615431.
  2. "Peyton Rous – Biography". Retrieved 6 June 2011.
  3. Rous, Peyton (1910). "A Transmissible Avian Neoplasm (Sarcoma of the Common Fowl)". Journal of Experimental Medicine. 12 (5): 696–705. doi:10.1084/jem.12.5.696. PMC   2124810 . PMID   19867354.
  4. Rous, Peyton (1911). "A Sarcoma of the Fowl Transmissible by an Agent Separable from the Tumor Cells". Journal of Experimental Medicine. 13 (4): 397–411. doi:10.1084/jem.13.4.397. PMC   2124874 . PMID   19867421.
  5. Rous, P. (1949). "Simon Flexner. 1863-1946". Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society . 6 (18): 408–426. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1949.0006.
  6. Rous, P. (1947). "Karl Landsteiner. 1868-1943". Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society . 5 (15): 294–324. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1947.0002.
  7. Ann Thwaite. "Marni Hodgkin obituary | Books". The Guardian . Retrieved 2016-03-11.

Further reading