Francis Peyton Rous
Francis Peyton Rous
BornOctober 5, 1879
DiedFebruary 16, 1970(1970-02-16) (aged 90)
Alma materJohns Hopkins University, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Known forOncoviruses
Scientific career

Francis Peyton Rous ForMemRS[1] (/rs/) (October 5, 1879 – February 16, 1970) was an American Nobel Prize-winning virologist.

Education and early life

Rous was born in Woodlawn, Maryland in 1879 and received his B.A. and M.D. from Johns Hopkins University.[2]

Career and research

Rous was involved in the discovery of the role of viruses in the transmission of certain types of cancer. On October 13, 1966, he was awarded a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work.

In 1911, as a pathologist, he made his seminal observation that a malignant tumor (specifically, a sarcoma) growing on a domestic chicken could be transferred to another fowl simply by exposing the healthy bird to a cell-free filtrate.[3][4] This finding, that cancer could be transmitted by a virus (now known as the Rous sarcoma virus, a retrovirus), was widely discredited by most of the field's experts at that time. Since he was a relative newcomer, it was several years before anyone even tried to replicate his prescient results. However, some influential researchers were impressed enough to nominate him to the Nobel Committee as early as 1926 (and in many subsequent years). Rous finally received the award 40 years later at the age of 87; he remains the oldest recipient of the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology.[5]

Awards and honors

In addition to the Nobel Prize, Peyton Rous was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (ForMemRS) in 1940,[1] and he won the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research in 1958 and the National Medal of Science in 1965.

Personal life

In his later life he wrote biographies of Simon Flexner[6] and Karl Landsteiner.[7]

His wife Marion died in 1985. His daughter Marni Hodgkin was a children's book editor, and the wife of another Nobel Prize winner, Alan Lloyd Hodgkin.[8]


  1. ^ a b c Andrewes, C. H. (1971). "Francis Peyton Rous. 1879-1970". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 17: 643–662. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1971.0025. ISSN 0080-4606. PMID 11615431. S2CID 32825036.
  2. ^ "Peyton Rous – Biography". Retrieved 6 June 2011.
  3. ^ Rous, Peyton (1910). "A Transmissible Avian Neoplasm (Sarcoma of the Common Fowl)". Journal of Experimental Medicine. 12 (5): 696–705. doi:10.1084/jem.12.5.696. PMC 2124810. PMID 19867354.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Rous, Peyton (1911). "A Sarcoma of the Fowl Transmissible by an Agent Separable from the Tumor Cells". Journal of Experimental Medicine. 13 (4): 397–411. doi:10.1084/jem.13.4.397. PMC 2124874. PMID 19867421.
  5. ^ Rous as oldest recipient of the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology
  6. ^ Rous, P. (1949). "Simon Flexner. 1863-1946". Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society. 6 (18): 408–426. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1949.0006. S2CID 159733258.
  7. ^ Rous, P. (1947). "Karl Landsteiner. 1868-1943". Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society. 5 (15): 294–324. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1947.0002. S2CID 161789667.
  8. ^ Ann Thwaite. "Marni Hodgkin obituary | Books". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-03-11.

Further reading