Skip Navigation Bar
Richard M. Taylor Papers 1930-1981
search terms in context | full text File Size: 35 K bytes | Add this to my bookbag


Biographical Note

Richard Moreland Taylor was a microbiologist, public health official and Director of the Rockefeller Foundation International Health Division. His specialty was arboviruses. In 1951 he helped establish a program at the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit (NAMRU-3) in Egypt to study mosquito- and tick-borne viruses and their transmission cycles. Collaborating closely with Telford Work who led the NAMRU-3 lab, their work helped eradicate yellow fever and identified the West Nile Virus.

Taylor was born Oct. 30, 1887 in Owensboro, Ky. and was relative of President Zachary Taylor. Taylor briefly studied civil engineering at the University of Kentucky before matriculating to the University of Michigan in 1905 where he recevied his medical degree in 1910. From 1910-1917 he was an instructor in bacteriology at New York University Medical School (1910-1911) and New York Postgraduate Medical School (1911-1917). He also received a doctorate of public health from John's Hopkins in 1926 while working for the Rockefeller Foundation. Taylor served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps between 1917-1919 rising to the rank of Major. He was awarded the Legion of Honor during World War I for his service in France.

Taylor was medical director of the Red Cross's Typhus Commission work in Poland from 1920-1922. In 1923 he joined the Rockefeller Fundation's International Health Division as a field staffer serving in its Paris, Budapest, Buenos Aires, and Rio de Janeiro stations until 1945. Taylor then become Director of the Division's laboratory in New York from 1945-1952. When he reached the Rockefeller Foundation's mandatory retirement age in 1952, he continued to work as a consultant to the Navy and Rockefeller Foundation's mosquito- and tick-borne virus research programs at NAMRU-3. In 1956 Taylor left NAMRU-3 to join the Yale University Medical School's Arbovirus Research Unit and was lecturer in the school's Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology section until 1960. In 1960 while still at Yale, under the auspices of the Committee on International Exchange of Persons, Conference Board of Associated Research Councils' Subcommittee on Information Exchange Taylor started the Arbovirus Information Exchange along with Telford Work. The Exchange was a newsletter cataloging arthropod-borne diseases submitted by scientists from around the world. It became the international the standard for information exchange in this research community. He also chaired the World Health Organization's study group on arthropod-borne disease meeting in 1960.

Later in 1960, Taylor and his wife Mary Stevic Taylor (herself an accomplished Stanford University graduate and personal secretary to Lou Hoover, wife of President Herbert Hoover) moved to her native northern California where he joined the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health as a lecturere in epidemiology until 1970. In 1966 the Society of Tropical Medicine created the Richard Moreland Taylor Award for Achievement in Arbovirology and was its first recipient.

Taylor and Work became close personal friends during their time in Egypt and remained close family friends throughout the remainder of their careers. Richard Taylor died April 15, 1981 in California.