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Lewis Coriell

Lewis Coriell was born June 19, 1911, in Sciotoville, Ohio. As a child Coriell moved to Montana, where he attended the University of Montana and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology. Coriell then went on to pursue a master’s degree in bacteriology and immunology. In 1936 Coriell married Ester Lentz and soon after they moved to Kansas so he could purse a Ph.D. at the University of Kansas. Coriell published many articles about the storage of cells by freezing them. After graduating with his doctorate in 1940, Coriell earned his medical degree in 1942.

Coriell decided to pursue his love for studying viruses, but there were no available residencies. Coriell was in Detroit, Michigan undergoing a cardiology residency when he received a call to work at the United States Army Medical Command’s Biological Research Division during World War II. After the war Coriell pursued a pediatric residency in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which put him in a position to better study and understand viruses and infections. During his residency in Philadelphia, Coriell perfected the techniques to prevent contamination in cell cultures, which allowed other scientists to work toward a polio vaccine.

In 1949 Coriell became the medical director of the Camden Municipal Hospital in Camden, New Jersey. Coriell was appointed field director of the Polio Prevention Study in 1951 and oversaw the clinical trials of the polio vaccine. In 1953 Coriell began to campaign for an academic medical research facility in New Jersey. In 1957, Coriell received the Presidential Medal at the International Poliomyelitis Congress for his contributions to the polio vaccine. Coriell also became the chairman of the Committee on the Control of Infectious Diseases of the American Academy of Pediatrics. In 1985 Coriell retired, and the medical research facility that he campaigned for was named after him. Coriell died June 19, 2001 in Camden, New Jersey.

Entry: Coriell, Lewis

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: June 2012

Date Modified: September 2015

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.