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Ludwik Gross Edit Profile

research professor of medicine

Ludwik GROSS, American research professor of medicine. Award for Leukaemia Research 1953; Medal, Pasteur Institute; Award, James Ewing Society; Award, University; Medal, Philadelphia 1965; Award, N; Award, National; Award, Veterans Admin; Award, New York 1974; Award for Cancer Immunology; Award, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; Award, New York 1985. N.A.S., American Medical Association, American Society of Haematology and other societies.


Gross, Ludwik was born on September 11, 1904 in Cracow, Poland. Arrived in the United States, 1940, naturalized, 1943. Son of Adolf and Augusta (Alexander) Gross.


Doctor of Medicine, Jagiellon University, Cracow, 1929. Prix Chevillon, Academy Medicine, Paris, 1937. Doctor of Science(honorary), Mount Sinai School Medicine, City University of New York, 1983.


He escaped from occupied Poland in 1940 soon after the 1939 Nazi invasion and travelled to the United States, ultimately serving in the US armed forces during World War II. After the war, he joined other scientists (notably Rosalyn Yalow, recipient of the 1977 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology) in the "Golden Age" of research at the Bronx Veterans Administration Medical Center, becoming director of the Cancer Research Division. One story claims that this appointment allowed him to move his research mice from the trunk of his car, where he had been carrying out studies, into a fully equipped laboratory. He died at Montefiore Medical Center on July 19, 1999 of stomach cancer at age 94.

Gross was a major proponent of the possibility that some cancers can be caused by viruses and began a long search for viral causes of murine leukemia. In the course of these studies, he isolated the Gross murine leukemia virus strain as well as the first polyomavirus, so named for its proclivity to cause cancers in multiple tissue types. Gross murine leukemia virus is a retrovirus whose counterpart in humans is human T cell lymphotropic virus I (HTLV-I), while murine polyomavirus is closely related to the human Merkel cell polyomavirus that causes most forms of Merkel cell carcinoma.

Thus, Gross identified two critical animal viruses that serve as models for viruses causing cancer in humans. His encyclopedic textbook Oncogenic Viruses is still considered a leading source book for early work in the discovery of viruses causing cancer. Gross died of stomach cancer, a major cancer caused by infection with the Helicobacter pylori which he himself researched.

A collection of his personal papers are held at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland.


  • R.R. de Villiers Foundation (Leukemia Society) Award for Leukemia Research (1953)\r\nWalker Prize of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in London (1961)\r\nPasteur Silver Medal of the Pasteur Institute in Paris (1962)\r\nWHO United Nations Prize for Cancer Research (1962)\r\nBertner Foundation Award (1963)\r\nSpecial Virus Cancer Program Award of the National Cancer Institute (1972)\r\nAlbert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award (1974)\r\nWilliam B. Coley Award (1975)\r\nPrincipal 1978 Paul Ehrlich-Ludwig Darmstaeder Prize in Frankfurt\r\nGriffuel Prize in Paris (1978).\r\nElected to the National Academy of Sciences (1973)\r\nFrench Legion of Honor (1977).


Served from captain to major Medical Corps Army of the United States, 1943-1946. Fellow American College of Physicians, American Association for the Advancement of Science, International Society of Hematology, New York Academy Sciences. Member American Society Hematology, American Medical Association, National Academy Sciences, American Association Cancer Research (director 1973-1976), Association Military Surgeons United States, Society of Experimental Biology and Medicine, Bronx County, New York State medical societies.


  • Other Interests

    Music, piano.


Married Dorothy L. Nelson, October 7, 1943. 1 daughter, Augusta H.

Adolf Gross

Augusta (Alexander) Gross

Dorothy L. Nelson

Augusta H. Gross