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Enders, John Franklin

virus viruses career embryo

(1897–1985) US virologist: developed improved method for culturing viruses.

Enders had several early career changes. He left Yale in 1917 to become a flying instructor in the First World War; began a career as an estate agent and left it to study languages at Harvard, and then changed to microbiology, thereafter staying at the Harvard Medical School through a long career. Before his work, few laboratory cultures of viruses were available and these were inconvenient (eg cultures in a living chick embryo). Enders argued that living cells should be adequate, without the whole animal, if bacterial growth was prevented by adding penicillin. In 1948 together with F C Robbins (1916– ) and T H Weller (1915– ) he cultured the mumps virus using a homogenate of chick embryo cells and ox serum with added penicillin. The next year a similar method was used for the polio virus and in the 1950s for the measles virus. For measles they were able to develop a vaccine by 1951 that came into widespread use in 1963. The trio shared a Nobel Prize in 1954 and their methods of culturing viruses allowed virology to advance with successes such as the Salk and the polio vaccines.

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