Thomas Huckle Weller

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Overview

Thomas Huckle Weller (born June 15, 1915) is an American virologist. He, John Franklin Enders and Frederick Chapman Robbins were awarded a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1954 for showing how to cultivate poliomyelitis viruses in the test tube.

Weller was born and grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and then went to the University of Michigan, where his father Carl Vernon Weller was a professor in the Department of Pathology. At Michigan, he studied medical zoology received a B.S. and an M.S., with his masters thesis on fish parasites. In 1936, Weller entered Harvard Medical School, and in 1939 began working under John Franklin Enders, with whom he would later (along with Frederick Chapman Robbins) share the Nobel Prize. It was Enders who got Weller involved in researching viruses and tissue-culture techniques for determining infectious disease causes. Weller received his MD in 1940, and went to work at Children's Hospital in Boston. In 1942, in the middle of World War II, he entered the Army Medical Corps and was stationed at the Antilles Medical Laboratory in Puerto Rico, earning the rank of Major and heading up the facility's Departments of Bacteriology, Virology and Parasitology. After the war, he returned to Children's Hospital in Boston, and it was there in 1947, he rejoined J.F. Enders in the newly created Research Division of Infectious Diseases. After several leading positions, he was appointed in 1954 the In July 1954, he was appointed Tropical Public Health Department Head the Harvard School of Public Health. Weller also served, from 1953-1959, as Director of the Commission on Parasitic Diseases of the American Armed Forces Epidemiological Board.

In addition to his research on polio, for which he won the Nobel Prize, Weller has also contributed to treating schistosomiasis, and Coxsackie viruses. He was also the first to isolate the viruses responsible for herpes and for varicella.

In 1945, Weller married Kathleen Fahey. They had two sons and two daughters together.

Further reading

  • Ligon BL. 2002. Thomas Huckle Weller MD: Nobel Laureate and research pioneer in poliomyelitis, varicella-zoster virus, cytomegalovirus, rubella, and other infectious diseases. Seminars in Pediatric Infectious Diseases 13:55-63 PMID 12118846

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