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Biographical Memoirs: Volume 63
March 11, 1921–January 13, 1987
BY LEILA DIAMOND
IN 1956, at a meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (A.A.C.R.) in Atlantic City, Charlotte Friend reported on the isolation of a virus that produced a fatal leukemia when inoculated into adult mice.1 This was a time when the concept of viruses causing cancer was still viewed with extreme skepticism and the presentation of such data by an attractive young woman not long out of graduate school was met with disbelief and derision.2 The audience's arguments against her findings were essentially the same as those Peyton Rous had heard in the early 1900's when he described a chicken tumor that was inducible by a transmissible agent. They argued, on the one hand, that the agent isolated was not a virus because it induced a malignant disease and, on the other, that the disease could not be a malignancy because it was virus-induced. However, the rapid confirmation of Friend's findings by the highly respected pathologist Jacob Furth led to a change in attitudes, and the scientific community soon realized that a virus which rapidly induces a malignant disease in adult mice provides an excellent model in which to study both viral oncology and the pathogenesis of neoplasia. Friend's virus became the primary system for research on viral