Karl Maramorosch, 101, professor emeritus, Department of Entomology, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University–New Brunswick, passed away of natural causes on May 9, 2016, during a visit to Poland.
Known internationally for his work as a virologist, entomologist, and plant pathologist, Maramorosch came to Rutgers in 1974, joining the Waksman Institute of Microbiology, where he later became the Robert L. Starkey Professor of Microbiology. In 1984, he moved to the Department of Entomology before retiring and moving eventually to California.
Maramorosch received various awards and accolades, including in 1980 the prestigious $100,000 Wolf Prize in agriculture in recognition of “his pioneering and wide-ranging studies on interactions between insects and disease agents in plants.”
Born in Vienna, Maramorosch attended Warsaw University and graduated magna cum laude in agricultural engineering in 1938. After immigrating to the United States in 1947, he received a doctorate from Columbia University. He joined Rockefeller University, then moved to the Boyce–Thompson Institute, where, as program director of virology, he and coworkers were at the forefront of new studies using the electron microscope to detect and characterize viruses and phytoplasmas in cells of diseased plants and insect vectors.
As a pioneer in insect tissue culture, he made significant advances to understanding the replication of plant pathogens in insect vectors and the interactions between insects, viruses, and plants. His research laid a foundation for diverse and increasingly important use of invertebrate-based in vitro expression systems used today in agriculture, medicine, drug discovery, and mammalian cell gene delivery. He grew focused on what was once a small and unrecognized field that developed into an important branch of science now demonstrating its enormous potential, including the first cancer vaccine.
Maramorosch was a prolific writer and editor over eight decades, editing more than 90 volumes and authoring or coauthoring hundreds of journal articles covering his research interests in comparative virology, invertebrate cell culture, parasitology, plant and insect disease, spirochetes, viroids, phytoplasmas, spiroplasmas, and biotechnology.
He is survived by a daughter, Lydia.
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