Thomas Huckle Weller

Weller, Thomas Huckle (1915-), an American virologist, was one of the first scientists to grow the poliomyelitis virus on tissues outside the body. For this accomplishment, Weller shared the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine with fellow researchers John Franklin Enders and Frederick Chapman Robbins. Weller also investigated the viruses that cause rubella (German measles) and chicken pox.

For decades, virologists lacked a technique to cultivate the poliomyelitis virus. In addition, scientists believed that the poliomyelitis virus could only multiply in nerve cells, which are the most difficult to cultivate. In 1948, Weller, Enders, and Robbins successfully cultivated the poliomyelitis virus in tissues from areas of the body other than the nervous system. This advancement paved the way for Jonas Edward Salk 's vaccination against polio, a potentially crippling disease.


Weller studied medical zoology at the University of Michigan, receiving a B.S. degree in 1936 and an M.S. degree a year later. He attended. Harvard Medical School, earning his M.D. degree in 1940. He began his clinical training at Children's Hospital in Boston and was in the middle of his training when World War II (1939–1945) broke out. He served in the Army Medical Corps, returning to Boston after the war to complete his training. He then joined the hospital's newly created Infectious Diseases Research Laboratory headed by John Enders. In 1949, he became assistant director of the research laboratory.

He also taught at Harvard Medical School and in July 1954 was appointed Richard Pearson Strong Professor of Tropical Public Health and head of the public health department at the Harvard School of Public Health. Later in his career, he was named director of the Center for Prevention of Infectious Diseases at the Harvard School of Public Health. He has been professor emeritus since 1985.