skip navigation nih record
Vol. LXII, No. 13
June 25, 2010

previous story

next story


NIAID Lab Chief Murphy Retires After 40 Years at NIH

In this 1984 photo, Dr. Brian Murphy of the NIAID Laboratory of Infectious Diseases administers an experimental intranasal flu vaccine to a clinical trial volunteer.
In this 1984 photo, Dr. Brian Murphy of the NIAID Laboratory of Infectious Diseases administers an experimental intranasal flu vaccine to a clinical trial volunteer.

Dr. Brian R. Murphy, co-chief of NIAID’s Laboratory of Infectious Diseases, has retired his microscope after 40 years at NIH. He is renowned for his expertise in the fields of virology, vaccine research and respiratory diseases. His long-term research on the attenuation of flu viruses was instrumental to the development of FluMist, the first nasal spray influenza vaccine. His discoveries also have led to the development of Synagis, the only preventive medicine currently available for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a major cause of lower respiratory infections in infants and young children.

“Brian Murphy is the quintessential NIH scientist, that is, one who has taken research findings from the bench to the bedside,” said NIAID director Dr. Anthony Fauci. “NIH will miss him, but his outstanding contributions will have a lasting impact on human health and the continuing pursuit of effective viral vaccines.”

Murphy’s laboratory conducts basic, translational and clinical research on a broad spectrum of diseases caused by major viruses such as RSV, parainfluenza, influenza, dengue, bunyaviruses and West Nile. Under his leadership, the lab has established cooperative research and development agreements with the biopharmaceutical company MedImmune to develop live, attenuated intranasal vaccines against pandemic influenza viruses, RSV, parainfluenza viruses and human metapneumovirus.

“Brian possesses the unique ability to integrate the medical, molecular biologic, epidemiologic, vaccinologic, translational and administrative aspects of his profession,” noted Dr. Albert Z. Kapikian, his long-time colleague in the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases. “In sports terms, he is like the ‘triple-threat’ quarterback, who can not only do it all but does it all successfully.”

Murphy’s research productivity is reflected in more than 490 published papers encompassing both important basic scientific insights and their practical application to vaccine development. He has served as chairperson for the World Health Organization steering committee on respiratory viruses and measles and as a medical councilor for the American Society of Virology. He serves on the editorial boards of Virology and the Journal of Virology and in 2003 was the first recipient of the Robert M. Chanock Award for Lifetime Achievement in RSV Research for his long-term efforts in RSV research, therapeutics and vaccine development.

“Brian leaves behind a distinguished legacy of scientific innovation and accomplishment,” said Dr. Kathryn Zoon, director of the NIAID Division of Intramural Research. “His long-term dedication to vaccine development, particularly vaccines for pediatric respiratory diseases, is exemplary of the NIH mission to improve public health.”

Murphy earned his B.A. in biological sciences from Wesleyan University in 1964 and his M.D. from the University of Rochester School of Medicine in 1969. He came to NIH in 1970 following an internship at Stanford University Hospital. He has headed the respiratory viruses section of LID since 1983 and been co-chief of LID since 2001. His plans after retirement include spending more time with his wife and family, completing papers he currently is working on as a special volunteer, playing tennis, kayaking, bike riding, traveling, photographing wildlife, reading novels and consulting for companies developing viral vaccines.

NICHD’s Lawrence Honored for Health Advocacy
Dr. Francis Collins

Capt. Lawrence M. Nelson, head of NICHD’s integrative reproductive medicine unit, received the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Health Advocate Award at the association’s annual conference in Orlando. The association honored him for his integrative research approach to infertility’s effects on women’s health and participation in society. Nelson’s research results have helped shape medical and occupational therapy for women with primary ovarian insufficiency, a premature, menopause-like condition. He has also lectured regularly to promote integration of women’s health with policy and research.

back to top of page