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Molecular Virology Expert Honored by National Association

February 16, 1998

Paul Kaesberg, emeritus professor of molecular virology and biochemistry, has been elected a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology in recognition of his many contributions toward a better basic understanding of viruses.

A founder of UW–Madison’s Institute for Molecular Virology, Kaesberg is well-known for his early X-ray studies of viruses, which showed that the protein portion of a virus exists in the form of an exterior shell surrounding and protecting the virus’ centrally located genetic material.

Kaesberg also discovered that some viruses are icosahedral in shape and, in fact, so many viruses were subsequently discovered to have this shape that the icosahedron — a 20-sided three-dimensional shape — has become the universal symbol of viruses.

The American Academy of Microbiology is the nation’s only honorific leadership group devoted entirely to the science of microbiology. Its mission is to recognize distinguished achievements in the field and provide expertise in the service of science and the public.