NIAID's Laboratory of Infectious Diseases has been involved in studies of gastroenteritis since the late 1960s. "It's very exciting to see something from the beginning," says Dr. Kapikian. "When we first started out, there was little or nothing written about viruses that cause gastrointestinal diseases."
Dr. Kapikian, newly trained in electron microscopy, used this technique in 1972 to discover Norwalk virus, the first virus associated with gastroenteritis. "Since then," he notes, "there have been thousands of papers about gastrointestinal viruses."
Rotavirus was discovered by Australian scientists in 1973. Dr. Kapikian and his collaborators first identified it in the United States one year later in stool samples taken from patients at Children's Hospital in Washington, D.C.
Not only have these investigators been behind many key scientific discoveries, they also have been intimately involved with the many clinical trials done to test several rotavirus vaccine candidates.
Initially, Dr. Kapikian, Robert Chanock, M.D., chief of LID, and their colleagues developed a monovalent vaccine against rotavirus in 1984. Two years later, when it was considered that a monovalent vaccine might not protect against the four clinically important strains of the virus, the LID group developed the additional individual components of RRV-TV.
Through a cooperative research agreement with Wyeth-Ayerst Inc. in 1987,
commercial development of the RRV-TV vaccine began.
"This vaccine didn't happen because of one person, it happened because
Contact: Laurie K. Doepel
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases