Roger M. Herriott, an expert on viruses who was a retired professor and chairman of biochemistry at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, died Monday of cancer at his home on Highland Avenue in Towson. He was 83.
Dr. Herriott was named a professor emeritus in 1975 but continued to do research and writing until his death.
He had headed the department at the Hopkins school since joining the faculty there in 1948.
Studying a virus that infects bacteria, he suggested that the virus could inject the bacteria with DNA as if it were a hypodermic needle, a discovery that had applications to viruses that infect human and animal cells. He introduced instruction on DNA to the Hopkins school in the early 1950s.
Born in Des Moines, Iowa, he was a graduate of Drake University and held a doctorate from Columbia University.
After completing his studies at Columbia, he joined the Rockefeller Institute in Princeton, N.J., working in a research group headed by Nobel laureate John H. Northrop that was studying pepsin, a digestive enzyme.