John Franklin Enders
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1954
Born: 10 February 1897, West Hartford, CT, USA
Died: 8 September 1985, Waterford, CT, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA, 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 John Enders, Frederick Robbins, 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.
Their work and discoveries range from cancer therapy and laser physics to developing proteins that can solve humankind’s chemical problems. The work of the 2018 Nobel Laureates also included combating war crimes, as well as integrating innovation and climate with economic growth. Find out more.