CLINICAL PATHOLOGIST: a scientist who uses laboratory methods to diagnose diseases


ELECTRON MICROSCOPE: a microscope that produces images using a beam of electrons to illuminate objects


RETROVIRUS: a virus that merges with the cell that it infects

Bert Achong (6th Dec 1928- 20th Nov 1996)

Caribbean Icons in STI Vol 1

Dr. Bert Achong contributed to the discovery of the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), a herpes family virus, in 1964. This virus is associated with two human cancers and is considered “the favoured explanation” of chronic fatigue syndrome. His findings provided insights into treatments of these illnesses. Examining human cancer cells in 1971 by electron microscopy, he discovered a “Foamy Virus”. It was the first example of a retrovirus infection in man.

Bert Geoffrey Achong was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, on December 6th 1928. He attended St. Mary’s College and won the science scholarship and Jerningham Medal Gold in the Higher School Certificate Examinations in 1946. He studied medicine at University College Dublin, Ireland. He later trained as a clinical pathologist at Lambeth Hospital, London.

He joined Sir Anthony Epstein, a researcher of viruses associated with cancer, at Bland Sutton Institute, Middlesex Hospital, and made important discoveries using his training in electron microscopy. When examining Burkitt’s lymphoma (an African childhood tumour), he pinpointed particles of the EBV. He authored several books, including “The Epstein-Barr Virus”, co-edited with Sir Anthony. Dr. Achong lectured in the Department of Pathology, University of Bristol, England, and inspired his students. He received doctorates in science and medicine from the National University of Ireland. He held fellowships in the Royal College of Physicians, Ireland, and the Royal College of Pathology, England. He died November 20th 1996.