Oldstone, Michael B.A.

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Oldstone, Michael B.A.


Born in New York, NY; married; children: three. Education: University of Alabama, A.S., 1954; University of Maryland, M.D., 1961; advanced study at Johns Hopkins McCullom Pratt Institute of Biochemistry. Hobbies and other interests: Bird watching, fly fishing, body surfing, reading.


Office—Department of Neuropharmacology (IMM-6), The Scripps Research Institute, 10550 N. Torrey Pines Rd., La Jolla, CA 92037. E-mail—[email protected]


University Hospital, Baltimore, MD, intern and residency training; Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, postdoctoral fellow in department of experimental pathology, 1966-72, associate member of department of immunopathology, 1972-78, member of department of immunology, 1978-89, professor of neuropharmacology, 1989—, head of the division of virology, 1989—. University of Minnesota, Winford P. Larson Lecturer, 2006. World Health Organization, member of steering committee on the eradication of measles and poliovirus; National Institute of Health, scientific counselor.


American Association of Physicians, American Society for Clinical Investigation, Scandinavian Society of Immunology (elected).


Burroughs Wellcome Professorship Award, Medical Research Council; American Academy of Microbiology fellow; Cotzias Award, for contributions in research, 1986; Abraham Flexner Award, for contributions in biomedical research, 1988; Rous-Whipple Award, for contributions in experimental pathology, 1993; Biomedical Science Award, Karolinska Institute, for contributions in virus/autoimmune diseases, 1994; J. Allyn Taylor International Prize in Medicine, for contributions in virus-host interactions and viral pathogenesis, 1997; R.E. Dyer Lectureship and Directors Award, National Institutes of Health, for contributions in viral pathogenesis, 2000; Pioneer in NeuroVirology Award, International Society for NeuroVirology, 2003; elected to Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences.


(Editor, with Abner Louis Notkins) Concepts in Viral Pathogenesis, Springer-Verlag (New York, NY), 1984.

(Editor, with Abner Louis Notkins) Concepts in Viral Pathogenesis II, Springer-Verlag (New York, NY), 1986.

(Editor, with Abner Louis Notkins) Concepts in Viral Pathogenesis III, Springer-Verlag (New York, NY), 1989.

(Editor, with Richard W. Compans and Ari Helenius) Cell Biology of Virus Entry, Replication, and Pathogenesis: Proceedings of a Glaxo-UCLA Symposium Held at Taos, New Mexico, February 28-March 5, 1988, A.R. Liss (New York, NY), 1989.

(Editor) Animal Virus Pathogenesis: A Practical Approach, IRL Press (New York, NY), 1990.

(Editor, with Hilary Koprowski) Microbe Hunters—Then and Now, Medi-Ed Press (Bloomington, IL), 1996.

Viruses, Plagues, and History, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1998.

(Editor, with Peter J. Lachmann) Microbial Subversion of Immunity: Current Topics, Caister Academic Press (Wymondham, Norfolk, England), 2006.

Contributor to periodicals, including Journal of Infectious Diseases. Editor of professional journals, Virology and Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology. Member of editorial board, Journal of Experimental Medicine and Journal of Immunity.


Michael B.A. Oldstone, an award-winning research virologist whose work focuses on persistent infections and autoimmune diseases, is the author of Viruses, Plagues, and History. In the book, Oldstone chronicles the efforts of scientists to conquer some of the most devastating epidemics in human history, including smallpox, yellow fever, measles, and polio, and examines emerging disease threats such as Ebola, hantavirus, and AIDS. The author "does a great public service by providing easily comprehensible digests of hard research on virology and immunology, past and present," observed Nation contributor Joe Knowles.

Some critics found fault with the book's emphasis on the experiences of medical researchers from Europe and North America. According to Laurie Garrett, writing in Foreign Affairs, the author "pays only cursory attention to the socioeconomic foundations of disease transmission, focusing his optimistic work on the triumphs of Western science." Garrett added: "Oldstone's heroes are the giants of vaccinology, and of the eight he discusses at length, only Carlos Finlay, a Cuban, was from the South. The history Oldstone recounts is one of scientific inquiry and success of men from the North, often in response to diseases that arose in the South. The social factors that turn sporadic cases of disease into epidemics are noted only in passing, usually drawing on nineteenth-century North American examples." "In this slim volume," observed Lise Wilkinson in Chemistry and History, "the historical sections are based on well known secondary sources and add little if anything to the backbone of standard medical history. But then the author is more interested in 20th century contemporary history and the achievements of his erstwhile teachers, friends and colleagues in the US. These include many heroes of recent progress in both vaccines and the tissue culture systems that have made their production possible."

Other reviewers were more complimentary. "The author's aim, to expose the importance of diseases in history, is worth pursuing," remarked Antoine Danchin in EMBO Reports. "In fact, this aspect of history, which has not yet reached its proper status in the teaching of history, certainly shows us a great deal about the evolution of man and microbes. This topic is not only a rich mine for a deep understanding of biology, but it is also a matter of real concern about the emergence of new diseases in the future." As Robin A. Weiss noted in Science: "Oldstone provides concise, telling accounts of the most dreaded viral epidemic diseases and of the virologists who pioneered their identification, pathogenesis, and prevention through vaccination," adding that the author's "accounts demonstrate the devastating impact viral diseases have had as they spread through newly exposed human populations." The critic concluded: "Viruses, Plagues, and History is accessible reading for the nonspecialist, and reminds virologists of our debt to the field's founders."



American Society for Microbiology News, Volume 71, number 6, Marlene Cimons, "Oldstone's Odd Start onto Pathway Studying Infectious Diseases Proves Lasting," p. 287.

Booklist, December 1, 1997, Willian Beatty, review of Viruses, Plagues, and History, p. 596.

British Medical Journal, November 23, 1996, Bernard Dixon, review of Microbe Hunters—Then and Now, p. 1340.

Chemistry and Industry, March 15, 1999, Lise Wilkinson, review of Viruses, Plagues, and History, p. 228.

EMBO Reports, June 6, 2001, Antoine Danchin, "On Our Tiniest Foes," review of Viruses, Plagues, and History, pp. 468-469.

Foreign Affairs, January-February, 1998, Laurie Garrett, review of Viruses, Plagues, and History, p. 139.

Library Journal, November 15, 1997, Marit MacArthur, review of Viruses, Plagues, and History, p. 74.

Nation, February 23, 1998, Joe Knowles, review of Viruses, Plagues, and History, p. 29.

Natural History, September, 1998, Paul Farmer, review of Viruses, Plagues, and History, p. 9.

Science, December 4, 1998, Robin A. Weiss, review of Viruses, Plagues, and History, p. 1832.


International Society for NeuroVirology,http://www.isnv.org/pioneer/ (March 20, 2007), "Michael B.A. Oldstone, M.D."

Scripps Research Institute Web site,http://www.scripps.edu/ (March 20, 2007), "Michael B.A. Oldstone."