Ruth Bishop

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Ruth Bishop AO
Ruth Bishop (left), with Tom Flewett and Al Kapikian, circa 1980
Born (1933-05-12) 12 May 1933 (age 81)
Dandenong, Victoria, Australia
Nationality Australian
Fields Virology
Institutions Royal Children's Hospital
World Health Organization
University of Melbourne
Alma mater University of Melbourne
Known for Discovery of human rotavirus
Notable awards Officer of the Order of Australia (1996)
Prince Mahidol Award (2011)
Florey Medal (2013)

Ruth Frances Bishop AO (born 12 May 1933)[1] is an Australian virologist, who was a leading member of the team that discovered the human rotavirus.


In 1973, Bishop, along with Geoffrey Davidson (Royal Children's Hospital) and collaborators Ian Holmes and Brian Ruck (University of Melbourne), examined cells from the intestines of children with gastroenteritis. Intestinal biopsies were taken at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, and sent to Ian Holmes and Brian Ruck (University of Melbourne) to be examined by electron-microscopy.[2]

Under the electron microscope cells were seen to be infected with viruses, which were originally named "duovirus" because they were seen in the duodenum and had a double capsid. The name "rotavirus" was later suggested by the Irishman, Thomas Henry Flewett, because of the round, wheel-like shape of virus particles. Rotaviruses cause diarrhoea and vomiting in young children and are a leading cause of death in the developing countries. Three thousand children are now hospitalised with rotavirus every year, down from 10,000 before the vaccine was introduced in 2007. Bishop says the invention of electron microscopy helped her make the discovery. The team's work has led to global control of rotavirus.

Dr Bishop has also published theoretical works about the patterns in the epidemiology of rotavirus infection.[3]

From 1983 to 1988, Dr Bishop was Chair of the Committee on Diarrhoeal Diseases with the World Health Organization (WHO), and since 1989 has been Director of the WHO Collaborating Laboratory for Research on Human Rotaviruses.[1]

Awards and honours[edit]

Professor Bishop was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the 1996 Queen's Birthday Honours in recognition of service to medical research, particularly for her contributions to the understanding of gastroenteritis in children.[4]

In 2011, she received the Prince Mahidol Award awarded by the Thai Royal Family for outstanding achievement in public health.[1]

Bishop was awarded the Florey Medal in 2013 for her discovery of rotavirus and subsequent work helping to develop a vaccine. The medal recognises significant achievements in biomedical research.[5]


  1. ^ a b c Who's Who in Australia, ConnectWeb, 2013.
  2. ^ Bishop RF, Davidson GP, Holmes IH, Ruck BJ (1973). "Virus particles in epithelial cells of duodenal mucosa from children with acute non-bacterial gastroenteritis". Lancet 2 (7841): 1281–3. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(73)92867-5. PMID 4127639. 
  3. ^ José MV, Bishop RF. Scaling properties and symmetrical patterns in the epidemiology of rotavirus infection. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2003 Oct 29;358(1438):1625-41.[1]
  4. ^ BISHOP, Ruth Frances AO, It's an Honour, 11 June 1996.
  5. ^ ABC News Online (28 Oct 2013) "Professor Ruth Bishop awarded Florey Medal for work on rotavirus vaccine." [2]