Thomas Huckle Weller
Born: 15 June 1915, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
Died: 23 August 2008, Needham, MA, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: Research Division of Infectious Diseases, Children's Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA
Prize motivation: "for their discovery of the ability of poliomyelitis viruses to grow in cultures of various types of tissue"
Prize share: 1/3
Many infectious diseases are caused by viruses - very small biological particles. A virus lacks metabolism of its own and cannot multiply without infecting a living cell. For a long time the prevailing opinion was that viruses could not be cultured in a laboratory. However, in 1941 Frederick Robbins, John Enders, and Thomas Weller succeeded in culturing the virus that causes polio in human muscle and tissue in a laboratory setting. This became an important step on the road toward a vaccine against polio.
"for their discoveries concerning the specificity of the cell mediated immune defence"
"for his discoveries concerning yellow fever and how to combat it"
"for their discoveries concerning new mechanisms for the origin and dissemination of infectious diseases"