Raymond Erikson has passed away at age 84. Erikson was honored, along with Michael Bishop, Robert Gallo, Hidesaburo Hanafusa, and Harold Varmus with a 1982 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award for insights into how oncogenes transform normal cells into cancerous cells.
At the beginning of his career Erikson became interested in RNA tumor viruses, an interest that led him to study the avian sarcoma virus. As noted in Erikson’s award citation: “After it was established that cancer-causing retroviruses carry oncogenes, the first important step was to define the protein product coded by each of them. Dr. Erikson isolated the first one—the enzyme coded by the avian sarcoma virus oncogene.”