Peaceful 10

Dr. Neal Nathanson

September 1, 1927 ~ August 11, 2022 (age 94) 94 Years Old


With great sadness we write to announce the passing of a Penn giant, Dr. Neal Nathanson. Dr. Nathanson served as Chair of Microbiology for 15 years, Associate Dean for Research, Vice Provost for Research, and Director of the Global Health programs at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.


Dr. Nathanson was a virologist who received both BS and MD degrees from Harvard. He received his clinical training at the University of Chicago and postdoctoral training in virology at Johns Hopkins University. Early in his career, Dr. Nathanson spent two years as an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer at the Centers for Disease Control, where he headed the Polio Surveillance Unit; while there, he made important contributions to increasing the safety of early poliovirus vaccines.


He spent 22 years at Johns Hopkins University, in the School of Public Health, where he was a Professor of Epidemiology, head of the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Epidemiology and founding Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Epidemiology. He then moved to Penn and served as Chair of the Department of Microbiology.


He later held multiple administrative positions at the University of Pennsylvania and National Institutes of Health, including: Associate Dean for Research at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine; Director, Office of AIDS Research at the National Institutes of Health; Vice Provost for Research at the University of the Pennsylvania; and Director, Global Health Programs at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.


Dr. Nathanson’s main research interests were in viral pathogenesis and epidemiology of viral diseases. He published many original contributions in these fields and authored a research textbook, Viral Pathogenesis.


Dr. Nathanson was an outstanding leader and a warm mentor. He is remembered fondly by generations of trainees and colleagues, many of whom are in leadership positions today. More about Dr. Nathanson’s eventful career, in his own words, is here (


Dr. Nathanson is survived by his wife, Valerie Epps; his brother, Larry Nathanson, his three children Katherine (Kate), John and Daniel, along with their spouses, E. Andrew Ochroch, Alison Brown, and Jennifer Nathanson, and seven grandchildren. Kate Nathanson is today the Pearl Basser Professor in the Perelman School of Medicine.


Memorial Services for Dr. Nathanson will be held in Cambridge and Philadelphia in the fall. In remembrance of Dr. Nathanson’s life, the family asks that any charitable donations be made in support of the Neal Nathanson lectureship, Department of Microbiology, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Checks can be made out to the “Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania” and sent to: Penn Medicine Development, c/o Andrew Bellet, 3535 Market Street, Suite 750, Philadelphia, PA 19104. To give online, please visit:






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