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2016 Distinguished Alumni

B.A. Chemistry, ’57

Dr. Robert H. Purcell is an outstanding scientist with a lifetime of achievement in the health field including positions as Chief of Chief, Hepatitis Viruses Section (retired), Laboratory of Infectious Diseases (LID), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Purcell is currently a "Special Volunteer" in the LID, having retired from full time government service at the end of 2012.


After completing medical school at Duke University and an internship in pediatrics at Duke Hospital, Dr. Purcell joined the Epidemic Intelligent Service of the Centers for Disease Control. He was assigned to the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, where he studied respiratory viruses and mycoplasmas before changing his field of study to hepatitis viruses. He served as an officer in the US Public Health Service from 1963 until 1997, when he joined the Senior Biomedical Research Service. He continued to work at the National Institutes of Health as Chief of the Hepatitis Viruses Section and then also as Co-Chief of the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases, NIAID. Dr. Purcell is a member of numerous medical, scientific and honor societies. He has published over 780 original papers, reviews and book chapters in his field of specialization and holds over 50 issued patents.


Dr. Purcell has been a supporter of the university and has made outstanding contributions to infectious diseases.


Born in Keokuk, Iowa in 1935, Dr. Purcell received: A.S. (Chemistry), Eastern Oklahoma State College, Wilburton, 1955; B.A. (Chemistry), Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, 1957; M.S. (Biochemistry), Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, 1960; M.D., Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, 1962.

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