Thomas Huckle Weller
|Died||August 23, 2008 93) (aged|
|Alma mater||University of Michigan, Harvard Medical School|
|Known for||poliomyelitis viruses|
|Awards|| E. Mead Johnson Award (1953)|
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1954)
Thomas Huckle Weller (June 15, 1915 – August 23, 2008) was 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 a test tube, using a combination of human embryonic skin and muscle tissue.
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 and 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, during 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 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, that he rejoined Enders in the newly created Research Division of Infectious Diseases. After several leading positions, in July 1954, he was appointed Tropical Public Health Department Head at the Harvard School of Public Health. Weller also served from 1953 to 1959 as Director of the Commission on Parasitic Diseases of the American Armed Forces Epidemiological Board. In 1954 he was awarded the George Ledlie prize in recognition of his research on rubella, polio and cytomegalovirus(CMV) viruses.
In addition to his research on polio, for which he won the Nobel Prize, Weller also contributed to treating schistosomiasis, and Coxsackie viruses. He was also the first to isolate the virus responsible for varicella.
In 1945, Weller married Kathleen Fahey who died in 2011 aged 95. They had two sons and two daughters.
Polio, short for poliomyelitis, or infantile paralysis, is an infectious disease caused by the poliovirus. In about 0.5 percent of cases, there is muscle weakness resulting in an inability to move. This can occur over a few hours to a few days. The weakness most often involves the legs, but may less commonly involve the muscles of the head, neck and diaphragm. Many people fully recover. In those with muscle weakness, about 2 to 5 percent of children and 15 to 30 percent of adults die. Another 25 percent of people have minor symptoms such as fever and a sore throat, and up to 5 percent have headache, neck stiffness and pains in the arms and legs. These people are usually back to normal within one or two weeks. In up to 70 percent of infections there are no symptoms. Years after recovery, post-polio syndrome may occur, with a slow development of muscle weakness similar to that which the person had during the initial infection.
Rubella, also known as German measles or three-day measles, is an infection caused by the rubella virus. This disease is often mild with half of people not realizing that they are infected. A rash may start around two weeks after exposure and last for three days. It usually starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. The rash is sometimes itchy and is not as bright as that of measles. Swollen lymph nodes are common and may last a few weeks. A fever, sore throat, and fatigue may also occur. In adults joint pain is common. Complications may include bleeding problems, testicular swelling, and inflammation of nerves. Infection during early pregnancy may result in a child born with congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) or miscarriage. Symptoms of CRS include problems with the eyes such as cataracts, ears such as deafness, heart, and brain. Problems are rare after the 20th week of pregnancy.
Polio vaccines are vaccines used to prevent poliomyelitis (polio). Two types are used: an inactivated poliovirus given by injection (IPV) and a weakened poliovirus given by mouth (OPV). The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends all children be fully vaccinated against polio. The two vaccines have eliminated polio from most of the world, and reduced the number of cases reported each year from an estimated 350,000 in 1988 to 33 in 2018.
Daniel Carleton Gajdusek was an American physician and medical researcher who was the co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1976 for work on an infectious agent which would later be identified as kuru, the first known human prion disease.
John Franklin Enders was an American biomedical scientist and Nobel Laureate. Enders has been called "The Father of Modern Vaccines."
Frederick Chapman Robbins was an American pediatrician and virologist. He was born in Auburn, Alabama, and grew up in Columbia, Missouri, attending David H. Hickman High School.
Thomas Francis Jr. was an American physician, virologist, and epidemiologist. Francis was the first person to isolate influenza virus in the United States, and in 1940 showed that there are other strains of influenza, and took part in the development of influenza vaccines.
Viral pneumonia is a pneumonia caused by a virus. Viruses are one of the two major causes of pneumonia, the other being bacteria; less common causes are fungi and parasites. Viruses are the most common cause of pneumonia in children, while in adults bacteria are a more common cause.
The history of polio (poliomyelitis) infections extends into prehistory. Although major polio epidemics were unknown before the 20th century, the disease has caused paralysis and death for much of human history. Over millennia, polio survived quietly as an endemic pathogen until the 1900s when major epidemics began to occur in Europe; soon after, widespread epidemics appeared in the United States. By 1910, frequent epidemics became regular events throughout the developed world, primarily in cities during the summer months. At its peak in the 1940s and 1950s, polio would paralyze or kill over half a million people worldwide every year.
A neurotropic virus is a virus that is capable of infecting nerve cells.
The history of virology — the scientific study of viruses and the infections they cause – began in the closing years of the 19th century. Although Louis Pasteur and Edward Jenner developed the first vaccines to protect against viral infections, they did not know that viruses existed. The first evidence of the existence of viruses came from experiments with filters that had pores small enough to retain bacteria. In 1892, Dmitry Ivanovsky used one of these filters to show that sap from a diseased tobacco plant remained infectious to healthy tobacco plants despite having been filtered. Martinus Beijerinck called the filtered, infectious substance a "virus" and this discovery is considered to be the beginning of virology.
Measles vaccine is a vaccine that prevents measles,. Nearly all of those who do not develop immunity after a single dose develop it after a second dose. When rates of vaccination within a population are greater than 92% outbreaks of measles typically no longer occur; however, they may occur again if rates of vaccination decrease. The vaccine's effectiveness lasts many years. It is unclear if it becomes less effective over time. The vaccine may also protect against measles if given within a couple of days after exposure to measles.
Congenital cytomegalovirus infection refers to a condition where cytomegalovirus is transmitted in the prenatal period.
The George Ledlie Prize is awarded by the "President and Fellows of Harvard College" for contributions to science.
Franklin Allen Neva was a virologist and physician who discovered Boston exanthem disease, helped isolate rubella virus, and worked with Jonas Salk on the development of the polio vaccine. He was the first member of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene to receive the Ben Kean Medal, in 1995, and also won the Donald Mackay Medal.
Isao Arita is a Japanese physician, virologist and vaccination specialist who headed the World Health Organization (WHO) Smallpox Eradication Unit in 1977–85. During this period, smallpox became the first infectious disease of humans to be eradicated globally. For this work, he and his colleagues were awarded the Japan Prize in 1988. He also advised the successful programme to eradicate poliovirus from the Western Pacific region.
Ann Holloway was an American technician and member of the team that developed the measles vaccine and the polio vaccine. She was an associate of John Enders. Prior to her work on the measles vaccine, Holloway helped Enders develop the polio vaccine, for which Enders won the Nobel Prize.
A notifiable disease is one which that has to be reported to the government authorities as required by law. In the United Kingdom, notification of infectious diseases is a statutory duty for registered medical practitioners and laboratories, under the Public Health Act 1984 and the Health Protection (Notification) Regulations 2010. The registered medical practitioners shall notify such diseases in a proper form within 3 days, or notify verbally via phone within 24 hours depending on the urgency of the situation.
Dr Golda Selzer (1910–1999) was an academic and pathologist at Groote Schuur Hospital, and co-founder of SHAWCO. Dr Selzer published extensively with over 50 articles of which more than 15 were on poliomyelitis.