175 Makers of History: Thomas M. Rivers

Thomas M. Rivers 1909C 36H
Father of Modern Virology

Thomas M. Rivers, who worked in the disease-riddled Panama Canal Zone as a medical student in the early 1910s, organized the long-range research program that led to the development of the polio vaccine.

His discovery in 1926 that the reproduction of viruses was dependent on the living cells of the host (unlike other bacteria) forever changed the study of virology.

Rivers spent more than thirty years at the Rockefeller Institute, including eighteen as its director. In the last few years of his life, he served as medical director of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis.