Robert A. Lamb, British-American virologist, Died at 72


Robert A. Lamb (September 26, 1950 – September 2, 2023): A Notable Virologist

Robert A. Lamb was a distinguished British-American virologist known for his significant contributions to the field of virology, particularly in the areas of influenza and paramyxoviruses. He held prestigious academic and research positions throughout his career, contributing to advancements in understanding viral mechanisms and leading to the development of vaccines and medicines.

Early Life and Education: Robert A. Lamb was born on September 26, 1950, in Muswell Hill, London. He pursued his higher education, completing a B.Sc. in Biochemistry from the University of Birmingham in 1971, followed by a Ph.D. in Virology from the University of Cambridge in 1974. His doctoral research focused on Sendai virus and elucidated the virus’s replication mechanisms under the guidance of his advisor, Brian Mahy.

Career and Contributions: After completing his Ph.D., Lamb moved to the United States and joined The Rockefeller University in New York for postdoctoral studies in virology. During this time, he made significant contributions to sequencing viral genes and characterizing viral proteins, particularly influenza A virus M2 protein. He later joined Northwestern University in 1983, where he established the Lamb Laboratory and continued groundbreaking research in virology.

Lamb’s research significantly influenced the understanding of how influenza and paramyxoviruses replicate, leading to the development of new vaccines and medicines. He was recognized with multiple awards, including the Wallace P. Rowe Award for Excellence in Virology Research in 1990 and election to the National Academy of Sciences in 2003.

One of Lamb’s notable contributions was the discovery that the M2 and BM2 membrane proteins of influenza A and B viruses are ion channels, essential for the viruses’ infection and replication. Additionally, his work on viral fusion proteins provided crucial insights into the fusion process between viral and cellular membranes, applicable to various viruses like SARS coronavirus, HIV, and Ebola virus.

Death: Robert A. Lamb passed away on September 2, 2023, at the age of 72. His contributions to virology and the scientific community continue to have a lasting impact, advancing our understanding of viral mechanisms and inspiring further research in the field.