Dr Wendall Stanley

Distinguished Alumnus Dr. Wendell Meredith Stanley, Class of 1922

Wendell Meredith Stanley was born August 16, 1904, in Ridgeville, Indiana. His family moved to Richmond in 1920 and produced a newspaper which Wendell delivered while working as a reporter. After graduation he attended Earlham College where he received a BA degree in chemistry in 1926.

While at Earlham, Stanley was named an All-Indiana football player. His original goal was to become a football coach. However, he attended the University of Illinois and discovered his interest in their chemistry labs, graduating in 1929 with a PhD in chemistry.

He married Marion Staples Jay, a fellow chemistry graduate.  They traveled together to Germany for a year where Wendell studied sterols or the fatty tissues in plants and animals.  A son, Richard, was born in Germany but died after a few months.  The couple returned to the U.S. and Wendell took a position at the Rockefeller Institute in New York.  He was named head chemist in the department of plant pathology. A second son, Wendell, Jr., was born.

In 1932 Dr. Stanley began working on virus research. The tobacco mosaic virus, the basis for his research, allowed him to freeze the virus, finding that freezing it did not reduce its infectiveness. This was proof that viruses were living organisms, and his research led to his being awarded the 1946 Nobel Peace Prize for Chemistry.

In 1941 he was named to the National Academy of Sciences, and in 1943 he helped to develop the first working influenza vaccine, which was used widely during World War II and saved many GI lives.  He was named director of the University of California’s Virus Laboratory which, under his leadership, became the largest virus research laboratory in the nation.

In 1959 he wrote a public television series on viruses, and in 1961 wrote the book Viruses and the Nature of Life. His final research was linking viruses to cancer.

Stanley  received the American Association for the Advancement of Science Prize, the Gold Medal from the American Institute of New York, the Presidential Certificate of Merit, the Modern Medicine Award, and the Distinguished Service Medal from the American Cancer Society. He became a Richmond High School Distinguished Alumnus in 1986.

Dr. Stanley died in Spain in 1971 as the result of a heart attack. He was only sixty-six years old.










































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