Thomas Huckle Weller
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1954
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.
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.