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St. Jude Virologist Honored by the Royal Society

MEMPHIS, Tenn., July 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Renowned virologist Robert Webster, Ph.D., of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, has been invited to give the 2010 Leeuwenhoek Lecture by the Royal Society in London.

The Leeuwenhoek Lecture, named after microscopist Antony van Leeuwenhoek, was established to recognize excellence in the field of microbiology. Webster will present the lecture next summer. The Royal Society, founded in 1660, is the world's oldest scientific academy in continuous existence.

"I am delighted and honored by the invitation to present the Leeuwenhoek Lecture," Webster said. "Presenting the lecture is something that I've hoped to do throughout my career, and this invitation is a great privilege."

Webster holds the Rose Marie Thomas Chair in Infectious Diseases at St. Jude and has been with the hospital since 1968. His research into the structure and function of influenza virus proteins has contributed volumes to the world's knowledge of influenza as an emerging pathogen. His work has explored the development of new vaccines and antivirals, as well as the part wild birds play as major reservoirs for influenza viruses and their role in the evolution of new pandemic strains for humans and lower animals.

Webster's curriculum vitae contains more than 500 original articles and reviews on influenza viruses. In addition to his position at St. Jude, Webster has served as a consultant to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Webster has received numerous honors throughout his career, including election to the Royal Society, London; the Royal Society of New Zealand; and the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Additionally, he was named by Scientific American magazine as a "Research Leader" within the 2005 Scientific American 50 - the magazine's prestigious annual list recognizing outstanding acts of leadership in science and technology - for providing insight into how novel influenza viruses spread.

"Dr. Webster is considered the godfather of influenza research. Over the last several decades, he has directly contributed to most of the major discoveries made on the biology and molecular epidemiology of influenza," said St. Jude Scientific Director James Downing, M.D. "In addition, he has served as a mentor to many of the leading investigators in the field today."

The Royal Society's members are some of the most eminent scientists of the day, including more than 60 Nobel laureates. Throughout its history, the organization has promoted excellence in science through its Fellowship and Foreign Membership, which has included Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Ernest Rutherford, Albert Einstein, Dorothy Hodgkin, Francis Crick, James Watson and Stephen Hawking.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is internationally recognized for its pioneering work in finding cures and saving children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. Founded by late entertainer Danny Thomas and based in Memphis, Tenn., St. Jude freely shares its discoveries with scientific and medical communities around the world. No family ever pays for treatments not covered by insurance, and families without insurance are never asked to pay. St. Jude is financially supported by ALSAC, its fundraising organization. For more information, please visit

SOURCE St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
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