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Thomas Milton Rivers

Metro Atlanta
September 3, 1888 - Atlanta

Viruses and bacteria are two very different things. We know that now thanks to a pioneering scientist born in Jonesboro.
Known as the father of modern virology, Thomas Milton Rivers also had a hand in the development of Jonas Salk's polio vaccine.
Rivers graduated from Emory College and went on to Johns Hopkins Medical School. In the early 1920's, he began a long career with the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, making it a leader in the field.
The March of Dimes is also indebted to Rivers. It was then known as the National Foundation of Infantile Paralysis, and Rivers oversaw the clinical trials of Jonas Salk's polio vaccines. His work earned him a spot in the Polio Hall of Fame in Warm Springs. In World War ii, Rivers served in the Medical Corps in the South Pacific, rising to the rank of rear admiral.

Thomas Rivers died in 1962 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. The man who dedicated his life to the fight against horrific diseases began his journey in Jonesboro on September 3, 1888, Today in Georgia History.

Fast Fact

Thomas Milton Rivers oversaw the activity of the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission, which handled onsite investigation in Japan following the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.

Today in Georgia History is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.