Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1951
Born: 30 January 1899, Pretoria, South Africa
Died: 11 August 1972, New Haven, CT, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: Laboratories of the Division of Medicine and Public Health, Rockefeller Foundation, New York, NY, USA
Prize motivation: "for his discoveries concerning yellow fever and how to combat it."
Prize share: 1/1
Yellow fever is a disease that used to be fairly common and claimed many lives in the tropics. The disease is caused by a virus and is transmitted to people by insects and also from one person to another. Max Theiler succeeded in transmitting the virus to mice, which paved the way for more in-depth research. When the virus was transmitted between mice, a weakened form of the virus was obtained that could make apes immune. In 1937 Max Theiler succeeded in obtaining an even weaker variant of the virus. This variant, 17D, came to be used as a human vaccine.