D. CARLETON GAJDUSEK SIGNATURE, "D. Carleton Gajdusek", bold black ink, on 6 X 4 card on which is printed: "NOBEL PRIZE, PHYSIOLOGY OR MEDICINE, 1976, For Discoveries Concerning New Mechanisms For The Origin And Dissemination of Infectious Diseases, D. CARLETON GAJDUSEK". In fine condition.
Gajdusek's best-known work focused on kuru. This disease was rampant among the South Fore people of New Guinea in the 1950s and 1960s. Gajdusek connected the spread of the disease to the practice of funerary cannibalism by the South Fore. With elimination of cannibalism, kuru disappeared among the South Fore within a generation.
Gajdusek was introduced to the problem of kuru by district medical officer in the Fore Tribe region of New Guinea. Gajdusek provided the first medical description of this unique neurological disordrer, which was miscast in the popular press as the "laughing sickness" because some patients displayed risus sardonicusas a symptom. He lived among the Fore, studied their language and culture, and performed autopsies on kuru victims.
Gajdusek concluded that kuru was transmitted by the ritualistic consumption of the brains of deceased relatives, which was practiced by the Fore. He then proved this hypothesis by successfully transmitting the disease to primates and demonstrating that it had an unusually long incubation period of several years