Notable Deaths

NOTABLE DEATHS

December 17, 2008

D. CARLETON GAJDUSEK, 85

Nobel Prize-winning medical researcher

Nobel Prize-winning medical researcher D. Carleton Gajdusek, who studied brain diseases and infections that lie dormant for years before attacking the body, died Dec. 12 in Tromsoe, Norway.

The American scientist, who spent about two decades at the National Institutes of Health, shared the 1976 Nobel Prize in medicine for his work on so-called "slow viruses." The infectious agents include one implicated in mad-cow disease.

His research trips to Pacific islands also contained descriptions of the sexual customs of those cultures, especially sexual relations between adult men and adolescent boys. His research triumphs were marred by a child molestation case in 1997, when he pleaded guilty to molesting a teenage boy, one of dozens of children he had brought from the Pacific islands to live with him in Middletown, Md.

Prosecutors at the time said Gajdusek had brought home 56 boys from research trips. He said he brought the children home to educate them. He served a one-year jail term in Maryland.

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