UC Berkeley press release


UC Berkeley Professor of Public Health James Hardy who traced the mosquito-virus pathway dies at age 64

by Patricia McBroom

Berkeley -- James L. Hardy, a professor emeritus of public health at the University of California at Berkeley and a leader in the study of mosquito-borne viruses, died of cancer Feb. 15 at his home in Pleasant Hill, Calif. He was 64.

In a 30-year career at UC Berkeley, Hardy led a successful effort to trace the pathway of twenty viruses, including those that cause encephalitis in humans, through cycles of infection and transmission in animals and mosquitos.

His work contributed to the control of western equine and St. Louis encephalitis viruses, both of which have caused "sleeping sickness" epidemics among humans. Most of the other viruses studied by Hardy do not, or have not yet, caused human illness, but his studies on mechanisms of infection and transmission in mosquitoes opened a new era in our knowledge of disease vectors.

He was a central figure, for instance, in discovering how viruses multiply within the mosquito and which species are likely to become infected. As head of the School of Public Health's Arbovirus Research Unit, he trained a new generation of virologists who now pursue this research around the globe.

The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene twice honored Hardy, in 1977 as the outstanding scientist under 45 years of age and in 1990 for his outstanding contributions to the field over a significant period of time. Hardy also received the Berkeley Citation for distinguished achievement and service to the university.

Born in Fort Benton, Mont., in 1932, Hardy graduated from the University of Montana with a bachelor's degree in 1954 and a master's in 1956. In Tokyo with the U.S. Army Medical Service Corp, Hardy studied the Japanese B encephalitis virus, cause of a major Asian epidemic, which led to a doctorate from the University of Minnesota in 1962. He came to UC Berkeley as a researcher in 1964, becoming a professor of public health in 1966 and later chairman of the Department of Biomedical and Environmental Health. He retired in 1994.

Hardy is survived by his wife, Shirley, and sons James of Telluride, Colo., and Jeffrey of Salinas, Calif.

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