In World War II he was a civilian consultant on infectious diseases
to the U.S. War Department. From 1945 to 1949 he served the U.S. Army
in a like capacity, with particular work on the mumps virus and rickettsial
diseases. During this period Enders, with his coworkers Weller and Robbins,
began research into new methods of producing in quantity the virus of
poliomyelitis. Until that time the only effective method of growing
the virus had been in the nerve tissue of living monkeys, and the vaccine
thus produced had been proved dangerous to humans. The Enders-Weller-Robbins
method of production, achieved in test tubes using cultures of nonnerve
tissue from human embryos and monkeys, led to the development of the
Salk vaccine for polio in 1954. Similarly, their production in the late
1950s of a vaccine against the measles led to the development of a licensed
vaccine in the United States in 1963. Much of Enders' research on viruses
was conducted at the Children's Hospital in Boston, where he had established
a laboratory in 1946.
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