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John Enders
The Father of Modern Vaccines, the Tissue Culture Techniques his team pioneered revolutionized Virology

Quotes By John Enders

 “I mouth the strange syllables of ten forgotten languages, letting my spirits fall, my youth pass. If this mood lasts, I shall by Heaven, throw it all to the four winds and go forth into the world like Faust, even if I have to bear his penalty.”
- On his early work in philogy, the study of language as used in literature, in a letter to a friend

"This antipodal revolution of my studies has been of large value in helping me to obtain that Pisgah sight of things and people that perhaps is the ultimate aim of my apparently inconsistent, faltering and obscure action." 
- On changing his graduate studies to science from philogy, referencing Pisgah, the mountain which Moses ascended to see the Promised Land

“In these experiments the tissue culture method was employed with uncertain results. But the conviction was gained that it represented a basic tool for the study of viruses of which the possible applications were almost unlimited.”
- Enders discussing his research in the 1930s that would later lead to his team’s breakthrough


Quotes from Enders’ team’s Nobel Prize Speech

“From time to time we had considered the mounting evidence…in favor of the possibility that these agents (of polio) might not be strict neurotropes…. Such ideas were in our minds when the decision was taken to use a mixture of human embryonic skin and muscle tissue in suspended cell cultures in the hope that the virus of varicella might multiply in the cells of its natural host…. while close at hand in the storage cabinet was the Lansing strain of poliomyelitis virus. Thereupon it suddenly occurred to us that everything had been prepared almost without conscious effort on our part for a new attempt to cultivate the agent in extraneural tissue.”

“At this point it seems appropriate to remark that the discovery of the antibiotics has, as in so many other areas, worked a revolution in the field of tissue culture. Through the use of these substances it is now not only possible to apply tissue cultures to the routine isolation of viruses from materials heavily contaminated with microorganisms, but it has become feasible to use them under conditions and in numbers which in the past would have been quite unthinkable. Here then we have another example of how one discovery leads to many others often of quite a different nature.”
- Enders’ team’s Nobel Prize Speech

“From these observations we concluded that, as with other viral agents, the virulence of poliomyelitis virus is not a fixed attribute but on the contrary may readily be altered under appropriate conditions.”
- Enders’ team’s Nobel Prize Speech, with understated words indicating that a polio vaccine was possible


Quotes About John Enders

“The superficial Enders guise was that of a round-shouldered, overburdened, sometimes meek, pedantic scientist – a caricature he deliberately fostered and exploited effectively as a shield against the unwelcome intrusion of assignments to distracting committees or administrative chores. In fact, he was a strong, competitive, thoroughly contemporary, artful academician who conserved his energies for those challenges he judged worthy.” 
- Samuel Katz, who worked with Enders during the research on measles

“The achievement of Enders, Weller, and Robbins was the starting point not only of modern poliovirology, but it launched the revolution rightly called molecular virology.”
- Hans J. Eggers, MD

“He favored doing small-scale experiments and reviewing the results of each as they came out to define another simple question and plan the next experiment to answer it.”
- David Tyrrell, virologist

“The door was always open to visitors from throughout the world. Few scientists left such a visit unaccompanied by carefully packaged boxes containing samples of virus, cells, sera, reagents, or other ingredients, to ensure the ready progress of their own experiments back at home. The data in laboratory notebooks were shared with visitors who sought specific information on experiments recently completed or still underway…. His philosophy was that the more people working on a problem, the sooner a solution would be found.”
- Samuel Katz, who worked with Enders during the research on measles

 “Dr. Enders pitched a very long forward pass, and I happened to be in the right place to receive it.”
- Jonas Salk, widely known for creating the first polio vaccine

Enders was “firmly convinced that the size or magnificence of laboratory surroundings and equipment had little relationship to productivity or success – if anything an inverse relationship.”
- Samuel Katz, who worked with Enders during the research on measles

 “His relations with the staff were such that they were able, and indeed encouraged, to produce suggestions for the next experiment or a new idea to solve a problem. This would be discussed from all angles and quite often the chief would put forward a different idea, but in such a way that the trainee was glad to take it up rather than feeling resentfully that he had been forced to abandon his own idea and accept that of ‘the Boss.’”
- David Tyrrell, virologist