Michael A. Epstein

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Sir Michael Anthony Epstein
Born (1921-05-18) 18 May 1921 (age 96)
Nationality United Kingdom
Occupation Virology
Known for Epstein–Barr virus
Awards Royal Medal (1992)

Sir Michael Anthony Epstein, CBE, FRS, FMedSci (born 18 May 1921) is a British pathologist and academic. He is one of the discoverers of the Epstein-Barr virus, along with Yvonne Barr and Bert Achong[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8]

Epstein was educated at St. Paul's School (London) in London, Trinity College, Cambridge and Middlesex Hospital Medical School. Epstein was Professor of Pathology, 1968-85 (now Professor Emeritus), and Head of Department, 1968-82 at the University of Bristol. In 1979 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London and was its Vice-President from 1986 to 1991. He was awarded its Royal Medal in 1992. He was awarded the CBE in 1985 and knighted in 1991. Epstein was a Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford from 1986 until 2001, and has been an Honorary Fellow since 2001. He became a founding Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 1998. In 2006, Epstein was awarded a D.Sc. from Bristol. He is a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association.[citation needed] He is Jewish.[9]

Epstein was the first person to propose that Burkitt's Lymphoma was a cancer caused by a virus. Upon hearing a lecture given by Denis Parsons Burkitt in 1961 about this newly described cancer, Epstein changed his research focus from cancer causing viruses in chickens to searching for a viral origin of Burkitt's Lymphoma.[10] After more than two years of working with tumour cells from Burkitt's patients and subsequently working to isolate a virus from them, the Epstein–Barr virus was finally discovered in February 1964.[11]


  1. ^ Bornkamm, G. W.; Delius, H.; Zimber, U.; Hudewentz, J.; Epstein, M. A. (1980). "Comparison of Epstein-Barr virus strains of different origin by analysis of the viral DNAs". Journal of Virology. 35 (3): 603–618. PMC 288854Freely accessible. PMID 6252328. 
  2. ^ North, J. R.; Morgan, A. J.; Thompson, J. L.; Epstein, M. A. (1982). "Purified Epstein-Barr virus Mr 340,000 glycoprotein induces potent virus-neutralizing antibodies when incorporated in liposomes". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 79 (23): 7504–7508. doi:10.1073/pnas.79.23.7504. PMC 347368Freely accessible. PMID 6296836. 
  3. ^ Gaston, J. S.; Rickinson, A. B.; Yao, Q. Y.; Epstein, M. A. (1986). "The abnormal cytotoxic T cell response to Epstein-Barr virus in rheumatoid arthritis is correlated with disease activity and occurs in other arthropathies". Annals of the rheumatic diseases. 45 (11): 932–936. doi:10.1136/ard.45.11.932. PMC 1002022Freely accessible. PMID 2878645. 
  4. ^ Epstein, M. A.; Morgan, A. J. (1983). "Clinical consequences of Epstein-Barr virus infection and possible control by an anti-viral vaccine". Clinical and experimental immunology. 53 (2): 257–271. PMC 1535689Freely accessible. PMID 6309441. 
  5. ^ Rickinson, A. B.; Finerty, S.; Epstein, M. A. (1982). "Interaction of Epstein-Barr virus with leukaemic B cells in vitro. I. Abortive infection and rare cell line establishment from chronic lymphocytic leukaemic cells". Clinical and experimental immunology. 50 (2): 347–354. PMC 1536694Freely accessible. PMID 6295671. 
  6. ^ Rickinson, A. B.; Crawford, D.; Epstein, M. A. (1977). "Inhibition of the in vitro outgrowth of Epstein-Barr virus-transformed lymphocytes by thymus-dependent lymphocytes from infectious mononucleosis patients". Clinical and experimental immunology. 28 (1): 72–79. PMC 1540876Freely accessible. PMID 193663. 
  7. ^ Yao, Q. Y.; Rickinson, A. B.; Gaston, J. S.; Epstein, M. A. (1986). "Disturbance of the Epstein-Barr virus-host balance in rheumatoid arthritis patients: A quantitative study". Clinical and experimental immunology. 64 (2): 302–310. PMC 1542331Freely accessible. PMID 3017620. 
  8. ^ Epstein, M. A.; Randle, B. J.; Finerty, S.; Kirkwood, J. K. (1986). "Not all potently neutralizing, vaccine-induced antibodies to Epstein-Barr virus ensure protection of susceptible experimental animals". Clinical and experimental immunology. 63 (3): 485–490. PMC 1577551Freely accessible. PMID 3011324. 
  9. ^ The Palgrave Dictionary of Anglo-Jewish History edited by W. Rubinstein, Michael A. Jolles, 2001 p.258
  10. ^ McGrath, Paula (6 April 2014). "Cancer virus discovery helped by delayed flight". BBC News, Health. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  11. ^ Epstein, A. (2012). "Burkitt Lymphoma and the discovery of Epstein-Barr virus". British Journal of Haematology (156): 777–779. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2141.2011.09008.x. 

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