Ludwik Gross

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Ludwik Gross
Ludwik Gross
Born 11 September 1904
Kraków, Poland
Died July 19, 1999(1999-07-19) (aged 94)
New York City, United States
Cause of death Stomach cancer
Nationality Polish, American
Education University of Cracow, Institut Pasteur, Sloan Kettering Memorial Cancer Center, Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Occupation oncologist
Known for murine leukemia virus

Ludwik Gross (September 11, 1904 – July 19, 1999) was a Polish-American virologist who discovered two different tumor viruses, murine leukemia virus and mouse polyomavirus, capable of causing cancers in laboratory mice.[1]


He was born on September 11, 1904 in Kraków, Poland to a prominent Jewish family. He studied for a degree in medicine at the Jagiellonian University. He escaped from occupied Poland in 1940 soon after the 1939 Nazi invasion and travelled to the United States, ultimately serving in the US armed forces during World War II.

After the war, he joined other scientists (notably Rosalyn Yalow, recipient of the 1977 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology) in the "Golden Age" of research at the Bronx Veterans Administration Medical Center, becoming director of the Cancer Research Division. One story claims that this appointment allowed him to move his research mice from the trunk of his car, where he had been carrying out studies, into a fully equipped laboratory.

He died at Montefiore Medical Center on July 19, 1999 of stomach cancer at age 94.[1]

Research work[edit]

Gross was a major proponent of the possibility that some cancers can be caused by viruses and began a long search for viral causes of murine leukemia. In the course of these studies, he isolated the Gross murine leukemia virus strain as well as the first polyomavirus, so named for its proclivity to cause cancers in multiple tissue types. Gross murine leukemia virus is a retrovirus whose counterpart in humans is human T cell lymphotropic virus I (HTLV-I), while murine polyomavirus is closely related to the human Merkel cell polyomavirus that causes most forms of Merkel cell carcinoma. Thus, Gross identified two critical animal viruses that serve as models for viruses causing cancer in humans. His encyclopedic textbook Oncogenic Viruses is still considered a leading source book for early work in the discovery of viruses causing cancer.

Gross died of stomach cancer, a major cancer caused by infection with the Helicobacter pylori which he himself researched. A collection of his personal papers are held at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland.[2]

Scientific awards[edit]

  • R.R. de Villiers Foundation (Leukemia Society) Award for Leukemia Research (1953)
  • Walker Prize of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in London (1961)
  • Pasteur Silver Medal of the Pasteur Institute in Paris (1962)
  • WHO United Nations Prize for Cancer Research (1962)
  • Bertner Foundation Award (1963)
  • Special Virus Cancer Program Award of the National Cancer Institute (1972)
  • Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research (1974)
  • William B. Coley Award (1975)
  • Principal 1978 Paul Ehrlich-Ludwig Darmstaeder Prize in Frankfurt
  • Griffuel Prize in Paris (1978).
  • Elected to the National Academy of Sciences (1973)
  • French Legion of Honor (1977).


  1. ^ a b "Ludwik Gross, a Trailblazer in Cancer Research, Dies at 94". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-09-17. Dr. Ludwik Gross, who influenced cancer research by showing that viruses could cause cancers in animals, died on Monday at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. He was 94 and lived in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. The cause was stomach cancer, said his daughter, Dr. Augusta H. Gross. 
  2. ^ "Ludwik Gross Papers 1908-1999". National Library of Medicine. 

External links[edit]

  • NIH Paper Collection of Ludwik Gross [1]
  • Horsfall, F. L. (1962). "Oncogenic Viruses. Ludwik Gross. Pergamon, New York, 1961. Xi + 391 pp. Illus. $12". Science. 135 (3504): 661. doi:10.1126/science.135.3504.661-b.