Interested in the mechanisms of viruses from an early age, Dr. Robert William Sidwell attended the University of Utah for his master’s degree and doctorate degree. During his studies in virology, he served as head of serology, rickets and virus research in the Epi Zoology Laboratory at the university from 1958 until attaining his Doctor of Philosophy in 1963. Relocating to Birmingham, Alabama, Dr. Sidwell was the head of the Virus Division of the Southern Research Institute from 1963 to 1969, while also serving as a faculty member at the University of Alabama Medical School.
From 1969 to 1972, Dr. Sidwell was head of the Department of Virology of the ICN Nucleic Acid Research Institute in Irvine, California, having thereafter been promoted to head of the Division of Chemotherapy in 1972 and director of the institute in 1975. Departing from the institute in 1977, he joined Utah State University in Logan, Utah, as a professor of animal, dairy and veterinary science, a position he held until his academic retirement in 2007. During this time, he was also the director of the university’s Institute of Antiviral Research from 1992 to 2007. Post-retirement, Dr. Sidwell was a consultant in drugs that treat viral diseases for five years.
A frequent lecturer in the field, Dr. Sidwell has also maintained affiliation with numerous boards and committees over the course of his career. In 1990, he served as chairman of the Basic Research Subcommittee in the Division on AIDS of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, affiliated with the National Institutes of Health. From 1978 to 1980, he maintained membership with the Nibley City Planning and Zoning Commission, and in 1975, served as chairman of the Health Education Awareness Forum. Likewise, he was a member of the steering committee for the Irvine School Board in 1972.
Renowned for his co-discovery of several antiviral drugs, Dr. Sidwell worked with a team to develop three drugs: Vira-A, Virazole and Tami Flu. Vira-A treated herpes viral infections, Virazole treated hepatitis C and respiratory tissue viral infections, and Tami-Flu treated influenza. Noteworthy for his accomplishments, he is a fellow of the Infectious Disease Society of America.
To remain abreast of developments in the field, Dr. Sidwell has maintained association with the executive committee of the International Society of Chemotherapy since 1991. Likewise, he is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Association of Immunologists, Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine, Inter-America Society of Chemotherapy, American Society for Microbiology and American Society for Virology, among myriad other organizations.