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May 11, 2017

Obituary: Julius S. Youngner

Youngner_Julis_MD_CropJulius S. Youngner, a world-renowned virologist best known for his contributions to the development of the first effective polio vaccine alongside Jonas Salk, died Thursday, April 27, 2017 at his home in Pittsburgh, surrounded by family.

Youngner, a Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of microbiology and medical genetics in the School of Medicine, had a remarkable scientific career that spanned more than 60 years, influenced the careers of an entire generation of virologists, and has saved innumerable lives.

More than just an outstanding and inspiring scientist, Juli, as Youngner was known to friends and colleagues, was warm, compassionate and down to earth with a wonderful sense of humor. He joined the University of Pittsburgh in 1949, and served as professor and chair of the Department of Microbiology from 1966 to 1985, and as professor and chair of the Department of Microbiology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from 1985 until his retirement in 1989. He continued to remain a large presence in the department, attending seminars as recently as last year.

“Juli’s infectious curiosity has fueled his own research and influenced all who had the privilege to work with him. As a direct result of his efforts, there are countless numbers of people living longer and healthier lives,” said Arthur S. Levine, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of the School of Medicine.

“Julius Youngner once told a reporter that he intended to stay at the University of Pittsburgh for only a short time following his work on the Manhattan Project. But he soon fell in love with Pitt and the research opportunities here. I am grateful he stayed and that his work, with Jonas Salk and others, led to the polio vaccine. He was one of the world’s preeminent virologists and our University community will miss him immensely,” said Chancellor Patrick Gallagher.

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