How Stanley Prusiner Discovered Prions and Won a Nobel Prize

Prion Protein Fibrils

In 1997, Stanley B. Prusiner received a Nobel Prize for identifying the agent responsible for ravaging the brains of animals suffering from scrapie and mad cow disease, and of humans with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. His investigation had been waged largely alone and, in some cases, in the face of strenuous disagreement. In Madness and Memory: The Discovery of Prions—A New Biological Principle of Disease, Prusiner tells the remarkable story of his discovery of prions—infectious proteins that replicate and cause disease but contain no genetic material. He talks about the work of teams of scientists who persevere in the face of opposition, and looks into what it will take to cure Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Lou Gehrig’s and other devastating diseases of the brain.