John Franklin Enders

Enders, John Franklin (1897-1985) was an American research bacteriologist who shared the 1954 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine with American virologist Thomas Huckle Weller and bacteriogist Frederick Chapman Robbins. The three developed a technique for culturing virus material. The technique helped lead the way to the creation of effective vaccines against measles and polio.

Enders was born in West Hartford, Connecticut, on Feb. 10, 1897. He graduated from St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire, in 1915, and then entered Yale University. After two years, he enlisted in the Naval Reserve and became a pilot. After World War I (1914-1918), Enders returned to Yale, where he graduated in 1920. He then considered a number of careers, including real estate. He decided on teaching and enrolled in Harvard School of Arts and Sciences. He received his master's degree in 1922. His friendship with some Harvard medical students had sparked an interest in medicine. He returned to school and earned a Ph.D degree in bacteriology from Harvard in 1930.


Enders remained at Harvard from 1930 to 1946, first as an instructor and then assistant professor. During this time, he studied the bacteriology of the pneumococcus. In 1939, he began studying the mumps virus. This work led to new techniques to culture the mumps virus. In 1946, Enders established a laboratory for research in infectious diseases at Children's Medical Center in Boston. Much outstanding work on viral diseases was done under Enders's direction, including the cultivation of poliomyelitis viruses, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize. Enders then returned to his earlier work on measles.

Enders married Sarah Frances Bennett in 1927. They had two children. Sarah died in 1943. In 1951, Enders married Carolyn B. Keane. He died on Sept. 8, 1985.