Dr. Frederick Chapman Robbins, a Nobel Prize-winning pediatrician, died on Aug. 4 from congestive heart failure. He was 86.
Robbins earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Missouri and his medical degree from Harvard. He was appointed resident physician in bacteriology at The Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Boston until the start of World War II when he joined the Army Medical Corps. While stationed in North Africa and Italy, Robbins patched up wounded soldiers and conducted studies on hepatitis, typhus and Q fever. His efforts overseas earned him a Bronze Star.
After the war ended, Robbins returned to the states to finish his training in pediatrics. In 1948, he worked with the research division of the infectious diseases laboratory at Children’s Hospital. With the aid of Dr. John F. Enders and Dr. Thomas H. Weller, Robbins developed a way to grow the polio virus in tissue culture. This method aided in the creation of polio vaccines, and earned the three scientists the Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine in 1954.
Robbins mentored many doctors as a professor at Harvard and the Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, and as the chief of pediatrics and contagious diseases at Cleveland City Hospital. In the 1980s, Robbins was elected president of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.
Transcript of Robbins’ Nobel Lecture