Bernice Eddy, Ph.D. (1903-1989)
Bernice Eddy was born in Glendale, West Virginia, but grew up in Marietta, Ohio, after her father’s death. She took pre-medical courses at Marietta College, intending to be a physician like her father and two brothers.
During her senior year of college, she was awarded a fellowship in bacteriology at the University of Cincinnati, where she also obtained her masters and Ph.D. She later researched leprosy at a Public Health Service hospital in Louisiana, where she met her future husband Dr. Jerald G. Wooley. Eddy and Wooley both joined the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where Eddy Joined the Laboratory of Biologics Control (which became the Division of Biologics Standards [DBS] in 1955) in 1937.
Dr. Bernice EddyFDA History Office
Eddy continued her ground-breaking research. In 1956, she worked with Dr. Sarah Stewart of the National Cancer Institute, and they identified the SE (Stewart-Eddy) polyoma virus, which can cause tumors. Eddy also identified the simian virus 40. Her work led to the newborn hamster becoming the preferred animal for testing potentially cancer-causing viruses of mammalian origin. Twice Stewart and Eddy were nominated for the Nobel Prize for their work on the S-E polyoma virus, but unfortunately, they never won.
In February 1961, Murray informed Eddy that her research interests conflicted with her control work on respiratory viruses. If Eddy was engaged in basic research with only minor relevance to her control activities, she was allowed to continue her work, but if her research began to identify factors which might require changes in the regulatory control of vaccines, her work was to stop. In July 1961, Eddy began her new role in research only as the chief of the Section on Experimental Virology within the Laboratory of Virology and Rickettsiology in the DBS. This was her new research-only role that kept her out of control activities for vaccines. Much of the treatment of Eddy was revealed during Congressional hearings as part of the Consumer Safety Act of 1972.
Eddy was also an expert on pneumococcus and streptococcus, influenza and polio-myelitis vaccines, and on tumor-producing viruses.
Dr. Eddy later won a Superior Service Medal from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in 1967 for her work on control testing of vaccines for polio-myelitis and respiratory diseases, and for her discovery and characterization of tumorigenic viruses.
Dr. Eddy worked in Building 29, Room 207, then moved to Building 29A once it opened in 1967, where she worked in Room 3B20.
- “Characteristics of the SE polyoma virus” by Bernice Eddy and Sarah Stewart in the American Journal of Public Health (1959) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1373056/.
- “Tumor Induction by SE Polyoma Virus and the Inhibition of Tumors by Specific Neutralizing Antibodies” by Sarah E. Stewart and Bernice E. Eddy in the American Journal of Public Health (1959) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1373057/.
- “Studies on a Subtype of Influenza Virus Virulent for Mice” by Bernice E. Eddy and Thomas G. Ward in the Journal of Bacteriology (1952). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC169275/.
- “Dr. Eddy’s Virus Research” by Edward Tabor in The Washington Post (June 26, 1989). https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/opinions/1989/06/26/dr-eddys-virus-research/17215681-bc2d-485a-a4c7-f96622b7e4b1/.
The NIH Record 1968
National Library of Medicine
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