- Hello Jeff - I wonder if this scientist might
be a missing link in the Anthrax cases? He might have been blackmailed
into providing anthrax. Who knows?
- Given his expertise in deadly INFECTIOUS viruses,
especially flu, I wonder if we are going to be hit with a virulent and
deadly flu epidemic?
- Harvard Professor Missing
- By Douglas Belkin - Boston Globe Staff and
Jenny Jiang - Globe Correspondent
- A world-renowned Harvard scientist and expert in highly
contagious and deadly viruses mysteriously disappeared in Tennessee early
last Friday, leaving a rental car on a Memphis bridge.
- Don C. Wiley was in town to visit relatives and attend
the annual meeting of the scientific advisory board of St. Jude's
Research Hospital. Police said there were no signs of foul play, just the
car with the keys in the ignition on a bridge that spans the Mississippi
River. Police found the car five hours after Wiley left a dinner at a posh
hotel several blocks from the bridge.
- ''This is totally unexpected. He was fine on Thursday
night,'' said Dr. Joseph Mirro, executive vice president at St. Jude's
- The disappearance of the popular, gregarious scientist
has shaken the scientific board and the staff and directors of the
- ''This is a terrible event and a great loss to the
community,'' he added, assuming the worst. ''He is an extremely brilliant
scientist in medicine and understanding biology.''
- In Cambridge, Wiley's wife, Katrin Valgeirsdottir, said
she was planning to fly down on Friday to meet her 57-year-old husband
with their children, ages 7 and 10. He also has two other children, ages
26 and 34, she said.
- ''He would never vanish. He wouldn't commit suicide,''
she said. ''I have no idea what has happened.''
- An award-winning professor of biochemistry and biophysics
at Harvard, Wiley built the first model of the structures of influenza
viruses and human cells that allow the disease organism to infect
- In 1985, Wiley began researching how drugs might block
the process, using a method called X-ray crystallography, in hopes of
maladies ranging from the common cold to HIV.
- The researcher for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute
at Harvard had flown to Memphis Wednesday evening, police said, and stayed
with his father in Germantown, a suburb. Wiley's brother and sister-in-law
also live in the area.
- On Thursday, Wiley met with the other 14 members of the
board, and was one of 150 people attending a dinner that evening.
- Memphis police Lieutenant Joe Scott said that witnesses
described him as being in a good mood when he left the dinner.
- ''No one detected that he was despondent or was having
any difficulties in any way,'' Scott said.
- At 4 a.m. Friday, police found Wiley's rented Mitsubishi
Galant on the Hernando DeSoto Bridge, which links Tennessee to
- Memphis police said the doors were unlocked, the key
was in the ignition, and the hazard lights had not been turned on. The
car had a full tank of gas.
- Scott said the bridge is about 100 feet high, and has
been the scene of a handful of suicides each year. Sometimes the bodies
aren't found for weeks, he said.
- ''We are investigating every angle we can think of,''
- Wiley's research focuses on the structure of viruses
and proteins in the human immune system.
- Herman Eisen, an MIT professor emeritus and friend of
Wiley's, said suicide ''just doesn't fit.'' Wiley ''was extremely
at what he did. He seemed stable and outgoing, he ran a large research
group very effectively. People held him in very high regard.''
- Globe correspondents Fran Riley and Jana Benscoter
to this report.
- This story ran on page B1 of the Boston Globe on
© Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company.
Site Served by TheHostPros