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Folia Neuropathologica
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vol. 47


Folia Neuropathol 2009; 47 (2): 89-94
Online publish date: 2009/06/26
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“Also the task is to evaluate and assess, and to decide whether the work is a novel, or a book of memoirs, or a parody, or a lampoon, or a variation on imaginative themes, or a psychological study; and to establish its predominant characteristics; whether the whole thing is a joke, or whether its importance lies in its deeper meaning, or whether it is just irony, sarcasm, ridicule…”

Witold Gombrowicz in Ferdydurke,

as used by D.C. Gajdusek in the Foreword to “The Laughing Death” [8].

This issue of Folia Neuropathologica is devoted to the memory of the late Daniel Carleton Gajdusek [1-8]. I was able to obtain reviews, original works and reflections from a group of prominent scientists – Richard A. Bessen, Paul Brown, Larisa Cervenakova, Ralph Garruto, Lev G. Goldfarb, Michael Katz, Shirley Lindebaum, Tatsufumi Nakamura, Vivek Nerurkar, Charles Weissmann and Richard Yanagihara. I am more than grateful to them. Those researchers were associated with Gajdusek either as his fellows and postdocs or as those who followed the path marked out by his experiments on the transmission of kuru to chimpanzees. I also decided to publish a few pictures of him taken on various occasions (Fig. 1-9). I believe we all owe a debt to Carleton Gajdusek, who was not only one of the greatest scientists of the last century but also an extraordinary person. However, the majority of questions he asked, in his innumerable papers and lectures and in thousands of pages of his journals, remain unanswered.


1. Anderson W. The Collector of lost Souls. Turning Kuru Scientists into Whitemen. The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore 2008, p. 318.

2. Cookie J. Cannibals, Cows & The CJD Catastrophe. Tracing the shocking legacy of a 20 Century Disease. Random House, Australia, Sydney 1998, p. 390.

3. Gajdusek DC. Kuru. From the New Guinea Field Journals 1957-1962. In: Stein J (ed.). Grand Street. Disguises 58. 1996; pp. 7-33.

4. Garruto R. D. Carleton Gajdusek: 1923-2008. Am J Hum Biol 2009 (in press).

5. Goudsmit J. Obituary: Daniel Carleton Gajdusek (1923-2008). Nature 2009; 457: 394.

6. Klitzman R. The Trembling Mountain. A personal account of Kuru, Cannibals, and Mad Cow Disease. Perseus Publishing, Cambridge, Massachusetts 1998; p. 329.

7. Liberski PP. Daniel Carleton Gajdusek. 9.9.1923-12.12.2008. Folia Neuropathol 2009; 47: 81-86.

8. Zigas V. Laughing Death. The Untold History of Kuru. Humana Press, Clifton, New Jersey 1990; p. 316.
Copyright: © 2009 Mossakowski Medical Research Centre Polish Academy of Sciences and the Polish Association of Neuropathologists. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/), allowing third parties to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format and to remix, transform, and build upon the material, provided the original work is properly cited and states its license.

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