The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences has presented its 2001 M.W. Beijerinck Prize for Virology to Robin A. Weiss, Professor of Viral Oncology at University College London. Weiss will receive a prize for his work in the field of virology, and in particular for his research on retroviruses.
About the laureate
Robin Weiss (1940) is Professor at the Wohl Virion Centre, part of the Windeyer Institute of Medical Sciences at University College London. He previously worked for the Imperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories, and from 1980 to 1998 he was director of research at the Institute of Cancer Research, London.
Professor Weiss studies human and animal viruses, focusing in particular on newly identified viruses and viruses that can be transmitted from animals to humans. He is particularly interested in viruses that can cause AIDS or cancer, such as HIV, HTLV and certain herpes viruses. He has focussed on cell surface receptors for retroviruses and showed that the CD4 antigen is the binding receptor for HIV. He also discovered 'endogenous' retroviruses that are inherited as Mendelian traits in the host. He investigated endogenous retroviruses in pigs and showed that these could possibly infect humans. Weiss' 1997 report in Nature Medicine showing that pig endogenous retroviruses can infect human cells sparked off a major debate about the potential risks of xenotransplantation.