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.