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Kuru, the first human transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, was transmitted to chimpanzees by D. Carleton Gajdusek (1923-2008). In this review, I briefly summarize the history of this seminal discovery alongside its epidemiology, clinical picture, neuropathology and molecular genetics. The discovery of kuru opened new windows into the realms of human medicine and was instrumental in the later transmission of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease as well as the prediction that bovine spongiformpmid:19618335 fatcat:jwnmpy2sfrg2vo7mkffajzvrua