Stony Brook University,
Eckard Wimmer (born 22 May 1936) is a German American virologist, organic chemist and distinguished professor of molecular genetics and microbiology at Stony Brook University. He is best known for his seminal work on the molecular biology of poliovirus and the first chemical synthesis of a viral genome capable of infection and subsequent production of live viruses.
Originally trained as an organic chemist, Wimmer developed a deep understanding and fascination for viruses as replicating (living) biological entities as well as (non-living) aggregates of organic compounds, or, “as chemicals with a life cycle”. After working on the structure of tRNAs and the structure of a plant RNA virus (satellite tobacco necrosis virus), Wimmer chose to study poliovirus in 1968. Poliovirus is the cause of the horrific disease poliomyelitis, which can cause irreversible flaccid paralysis and even death. Neither the molecular biology of poliovirus proliferation nor the mechanism of its pathogenesis was understood in the nineteen sixties.