Charlotte Friend

Microbiologist and virologist


Friend was born on March 14, 1921. Her childhood had a rough start when her father died when she was 3. Although, that motivated her to study medicine in her early schooling. She went to a college prep school, Hunter College High School, and then went on to study at Hunter College. After that she enlisted in the navy to help fund her college. She then went on to Yale University to get her Ph.D. in microbiology.

After College

Friend was hired by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering institute for Cancer Research. IN 1952, she became an associate professor in microbiology at Cornell University, which had just set up a program working closely with the institute. This is when she developed her interest in Cancer, especially Leukemia which was the one of the leading causes of childrens´ deaths at the time. She then did research on mice that proved that a virus was the cause of Leukemia. Despite her genius use of an electron microscope to get pictures of this virus, her research was denounced at the 196 meeting of the American Cancer Association by many other researchers that refused to believe that cancer was caused by a virus. Throughout the year, she gained support from many people and was able to start vaccinating her mice, by injecting them with some of the virus and letting them develop antibodies against the disease. At the 1957 meeting, she was able to convince most people of her theory about cancer, and it is now a world wide fact that cancer is caused by viruses.

Awards and Accomplishments