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Chemist helped develop polio vaccine

Jane Collier Anderson ’37

A picture of Jane Collier Anderson

Jane Collier Anderson , April 30, 2000, in the Unitarian-Unaversalist Church in Urnbana Illinois. Jane designed and maintained the Rose window in the background. Photo by George C. Anderson

Pioneering chemist Jane Graybill Collier Anderson ’37 died July 10, 2006, in Champaign, Illinois.

Jane earned her BA from Reed in biology, writing a thesis on the razor clam under the direction of Prof. L. E. Griffin. After graduation, she accepted a teaching job in the zoology department at the University of Missouri, where she pursued chemistry and medicine, earning her MA and PhD in zoology. 

Jane then went to Yale University as a zoologist where she worked on the vitamin content of army rations.

In 1943, she married John D. Anderson, and took a position at a government rubber research lab at Salinas, California, while he was deployed to the war. Her next position was with Children's Fund of Michigan, a research lab of Women's Hospital in Detroit, where she analyzed the vitamins in mother's milk.

The Andersons reunited after the war at Stanford University, where Jane joined a research team in the chemistry department to work on developing a vaccine against polio. In 1947, the Stanford team announced a dramatic breakthrough: a crude vaccine which appeared to confer immunity to the Lansing strain of the polio virus among cotton rats. This experiment was an important precursor to the development of the Salk and Sabin polio vaccines. Although Jane played an important role in the work, she and the other women on the team were credited only with "technical assistance."

After John earned a PhD at Stanford, the couple moved to Champaign, Illinois, for his position at the University of Illinois. Jane raised four children, did volunteer work, painted, and tried other mediums of art, including totem-pole carving. She even excelled in history, one of her least favorite subjects at Reed, and wrote the history of Channing-Murray Chapel at the University of Illinois.

“Almost every subject which I studied, or was made to study, has been put to use at some time during my life,” she wrote to Reed for her 50th-class reunion. “So-Hail to thee, Alma Mater, Fair Reed—this one of your daughters is still pursuing the scholarly life and thanks you for it!”

 Other members of her family who attended Reed include her mother, Ruth Graybill Collier ’32, MA ’38; her sister Miriam Collier Hope ’39 and brother Robert P. Collier ’42; and her niece, Catherine Collier ’68.

Jane's contribution to medical research was noted in the feature "Pathogenius" in Reed Magazine.

Appeared in Reed magazine: February 2008

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