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Max Theiler

Max TheilerBorn: 30-Jan-1899
Birthplace: Pretoria, South Africa
Died: 11-Aug-1972
Location of death: New Haven, CT
Cause of death: Natural Causes

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Scientist

Nationality: South Africa
Executive summary: Yellow fever vaccination

South African virologist Max Theiler (pronounced Tyler) researched tropical diseases at Harvard, but spent most of his career at Rockefeller University. At Harvard, he studied rat-bite fever and dysentery, and proved that yellow fever is caused by a virus. At Rockefeller, Theiler developed a vaccine for yellow fever, a breakthrough which saved countless lives and earned Theiler the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1951.

Though he was the first South African Nobel laureate, he spent his last fifty years in America, and seemed thoroughly American to his colleagues. When asked what he would do with the money -- approximately $32,000 -- that came with his Nobel Prize, Theiler replied that he would buy a case of Scotch and watch the Brooklyn Dodgers play baseball.

His father, Arnold Theiler, was a famous animal doctor who lost one hand in a farm accident, researched many tick-transmitted diseases, became the first State Veterinarian for the South African Republic, and was knighted for his work.

Father: Sir Arnold Theiler (veterinarian-statesman, b. 26-Mar-1867, d. 24-Jul-1936)
Mother: Lady Emma Jegge Theiler (m. 1893)
Brother: Hans Theiler (veterinarian, b. 1894, d. 1947)
Sister: Margaret Theiler (teacher, b. 1896, d. 1988)
Sister: Gertrude Theiler (parasitologist, b. 1897, d. 1986)
Wife: Lillian Graham Theiler

    High School: Pretoria Boys High School, Brooklyn, South Africa
    University: Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa
    Medical School: BS Medicine, University of Cape Town (1918)
    Medical School: MD, University of London (1922)
    Teacher: Tropical Medicine, Harvard University (1922-30)
    Administrator: Rockefeller University (1930-64)
    Professor: Epidemiology and Microbiology, Yale University (1964-67)

    Royal College of Physicians 1922
    Royal College of Surgeons 1922
    Rockefeller Foundation 1930-
    Lasker Award 1949
    Nobel Prize for Medicine 1951
    Swiss Ancestry

Author of books:
The arthropod-borne viruses of vertebrates: An Account of the Rockefeller Foundation Virus Program (1973, co-author Wilbur G Downs)


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