Rivers, Thomas M. (Thomas Milton), 1888-1962Alternative names
Thomas Milton Rivers conducted medical research in bacteriology. He discovered the bacillus Parainfluenzae and cultivated vaccine virus for human use. Most of his research was conducted at the Hospital of the Rockefeller Institute, where he was director from 1937-1955.
From the description of Papers, [ca. 1941-1963]. (American Philosophical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 122440206
After a desultory education in Jonesboro, Georgia, Thomas M. Rivers discovered biology as an undergraduate at Emory College. With the encouragement of a biology professor, he entered medical school at Johns Hopkins in 1909, though a mysterious nervous degeneration (diagnosed as Aran-Duchenne atrophy) forced him to withdraw in the middle of his second year. Rivers made the most of his recovery, taking a position as a laboratory assistant at a hospital in Panama to gain clinical experience, and when his condition vanished as mysteriously as it had appeared, he returned to Hopkins, completing his MD in 1915.
Rivers' internship in pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins Hospital was interrupted by military service, an event that induced an unexpected, but important shift in his perspective. Entering the Army medical corps in 1918, Rivers was assigned to For Sam Houston, near San Antonio, Texas, to take part in a commission headed by Rufus Ivory Cole of the Rockefeller Institute, investigating concurrent outbreaks of measles and pneumonia. The experience awakened Rivers' interest in medical research, and when he returned to Hopkins at the end of his military obligations, he transferred into the Department of Bacteriology. In 1922, Cole invited Rivers to join the Institute and pursue research in the still poorly understood field of virology.
Between 1922 and 1955, Rivers molded Rockefeller into the preeminent laboratory for research on viruses, and in over 100 papers published during these years, Rivers addressed a range of topics relating to some of the most devastating viral diseases, including smallpox, Rift Valley Fever, and epidemic encephalitis. More importantly, he helped delineate the disciplinary boundaries of virology as both conceptually and methodologically distinct.
During the Second World War, Rivers again offered his services, serving as commander of the Naval Medical Research Unit in the South Pacific where his attentions were drawn to coordinating the effort to combat malaria and typhus. He eventually retired from the Navy with the rank of Rear Admiral. He returned to the Rockefeller in 1946, remaining for an additional ten years and eventually earning promotion to director of the institute (1953-1955).
In the last few years of his life, Rivers served as medical director of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, with which he had been associated since 1938, and as such, played a highly visible role in the development of the polio vaccine. He stepped down in 1958 to become Vice President for medical Affairs, remaining in that position until his death in 1962. Rivers was recognized for his work with election to the American Philosophical Society (1942) and the National Academy of Sciences (1932), and he served as president of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (1932), the Society of American Immunologists (1934), and the Society of American Bacteriologists (1936).
From the guide to the Thomas M. Rivers Papers, 1887-1963, (American Philosophical Society)
|referencedIn||Albert B. Sabin Papers, 1930-1993, 1939-1969||University of Cincinnati, Health Sciences Library, Henry R. Winkler Center for the History of the Health Professions|
|creatorOf||Rivers, Thomas M. (Thomas Milton), 1888-1962. Papers, [ca. 1941-1963].||American Philosophical Society Library|
|creatorOf||Mackenzie, George M.,. Biographical data on Karl Landsteiner, 1923-1952.||American Philosophical Society Library|
|referencedIn||Biographical data on Karl Landsteiner, 1923-1952, 1923-1952||American Philosophical Society|
|referencedIn||Rockefeller University. Administration (Academic). Vice Presidents. Records, 1911-1973.||Rockefeller Archive Center, Rockefeller University, Pocantico Hills|
|creatorOf||Thomas M. Rivers Papers, 1887-1963||American Philosophical Society|
|referencedIn||Stanford University Press archival book copies, 1900-2012||Cecil H. Green Library. Department of Special Collections and University Archives|
|referencedIn||Rockefeller University. Archives, 1901-||Rockefeller Archive Center, Rockefeller University, Pocantico Hills|
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|World War, 1914-1918|
|United States. Navy. Naval Medical Research Unit II|
|World War, 1939-1945|