Dr. Bernice Eddy and her friend and collaborator, Dr. Sarah Stewart, were the first to describe the polyoma virus. They showed that this virus causes tumors in many different animals and that it can be transferred from one individual to another. The virus was later named the SE Polyoma Virus in their honor.
Bernice Eddy was born in 1903 in West Virginia, U.S.A. She received her Ph.D. degree from the University of Cincinnati in 1927. In 1931 she joined the Public Health Service and in 1937 she started working at the National Institutes of Health. She developed the method of tissue culture for tumor viruses, which is growing virus-infected animal cells in a container. This method made it possible to work with such cells outside of the animals they came from. The tissue culture method allows studies of one type of tissue without interference from other cells.
Bernice Eddy married in 1938 and later bore two children. She retired in 1973.