Roger Herriott, PhD
On Sunday, Aug. 13, 1961, The New York Times called a report by Roger Herriott "a whole new dimension to the study of virus diseases."
A decade earlier, Dr. Herriott had separated the nucleic acid from the protein of a bacterial virus and found that the toxic but not the reproductive properties of the virus were carried by the protein component. This finding suggested the nucleic acid was important for viral reproduction, although there was no way of testing the theory at that time. Infections by free nucleic acid later were produced in laboratories by the viruses of polio, Eastern encephalitis, and several other diseases of humans, animals, and plants.
Dr. Herriott's discovery was a valuable clue to the puzzle of how viruses multiply. To continue his investigations, he received a grant from the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis in 1954.
He also was part of a major national study in the early 1950s to find methods to sterilize human blood for transfusion, considering it might carry viral disease agents.
In addition to his contributions as biochemist, Dr. Herriott served in leadership capacities at the University for three decades.