St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Department of Infectious Diseases/Division of Virology
Dr. Robert G. Webster has been named the 2010 Mendel Medal recipient. The Mendel Medal was established in honor of Gregor Johann Mendel, Abbot of the Augustinian Monastery, Brünn, Austria, (now Brno, the Czech Republic), who discovered the celebrated laws of heredity, which now bear his name. The Mendel Medal is awarded to outstanding scientists who have done much by their painstaking work to advance the cause of science, and, by their lives and their standing before the world as scientists, have demonstrated that between true science and true religion there is no intrinsic conflict.
Dr. Webster is Professor in the Division of Virology; Department of Infectious Diseases at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and holds the Rose Marie Thomas Chair. A native of New Zealand, Dr. Webster received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Microbiology from Otago University in New Zealand. In 1962, he earned his Ph.D. from the Australian National University and spent the next two years as a Fulbright Scholar working on influenza in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Dr. Webster’s interests include the emergence and control of influenza viruses, viral immunology, the structure and function of influenza virus proteins and the development of new vaccines and antivirals. The major focus of his research is the importance of influenza viruses in wild aquatic birds as a major reservoir of influenza viruses and their role in the evolution of new pandemic strains for humans and lower animals. His curriculum vitae contains over 500 original articles and reviews on influenza viruses. He has trained many scientists who now contribute to our understanding of the evolution and pathogenesis of influenza. He continues to work in the Center of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance (CEIRS), which he initiated at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.