Max Theiler

About Max Theiler

Who is it?: Virologist
Birth Day: January 30, 1899
Birth Place: Pretoria, South Africa, South African
Died On: 11 August 1972(1972-08-11) (aged 73)\nNew Haven, Connecticut, USA
Birth Sign: Aquarius
Residence: USA
Known for: Developing a vaccine against yellow fever
Awards: Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award (1949) Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1951)
Fields: Virology

Max Theiler Net Worth

Max Theiler was born on January 30, 1899 in Pretoria, South Africa, South African, is Virologist. Max Theiler was a South African-American virologist who developed a vaccine against yellow fever for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1951. He was the first African-born Nobel laureate. Born in Pretoria as the son of a veterinary bacteriologist, he was exposed to the field of medicine from a young age. He graduated from the University of Cape Town Medical School and went to London for his post-graduate work. He eventually earned a diploma in tropical medicine and hygiene from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine following which he moved to the United States to do research at the Harvard University School of Tropical Medicine. After working on issues related to amoebic dysentery and rat bite fever, he focused upon the study of yellow fever and began working on developing a vaccine against the disease. Following years of rigorous research he successfully developed a safe, standardized vaccine for the disease. The success of the vaccine earned him international acclaim and ultimately the Nobel Prize. He was also engaged in research on dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis. He authored several scientific papers and contributed to two books, ‘Viral and Rickettsial Infections of Man’ and ‘Yellow Fever.
Max Theiler is a member of Singers

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Theiler was born in Pretoria, then the capital of the South African Republic (now South Africa); his father Arnold Theiler was a veterinary bacteriologist. He attended Pretoria Boys High School, Rhodes University College, and University of Cape Town Medical School, graduating in 1918. He left South Africa for London to study at St Thomas's Hospital Medical School, King's College London, and at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In 1922, he was awarded a diploma in tropical Medicine and hygiene; he became a licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians of London and a member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England.


Theiler wanted to pursue a career in research, so in 1922, he took a position at the Harvard University School of Tropical Medicine in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He spent several years investigating amoebic dysentery and trying to develop a vaccine for rat-bite fever.


After becoming assistant to Andrew Sellards, he started working on yellow fever. In 1926, they disproved Hideyo Noguchi's hypothesis that yellow fever was caused by the bacterium Leptospira icteroides. In 1928, the year after the disease was identified conclusively as a virus, they showed that the African and South American viruses are immunologically identical. (This followed Adrian Stokes' inducing yellow fever in rhesus macaques from India). In the course of this research, Theiler contracted yellow fever, but survived and developed immunity.


He married Lillian Graham in 1928, and they had one daughter. He died in New Haven, Connecticut.


In 1930, Theiler moved to the Rockefeller Institute in New York, where he later became Director of the Virus Laboratory. He was professor of epidemiology and public health at Yale University from 1964 to 1967.


In 1937, Max Theiler discovered a filterable agent that was a known cause for paralysis in mice. He found the virus was not transmittable to rhesus macaques, and that only some mice developed symptoms. The virus is now referred to as Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus. The virus has been well characterized, and now serves as a standard model for studying multiple sclerosis.


For this work, Theiler received the 1951 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Theiler also was awarded the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene's Chalmers Medal in 1939, Harvard University's Flattery Medal in 1945, and the American Public Health Association's Lasker Award in 1949.