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#151 – Baruch Blumberg

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Throughout the 1950’s, Blumberg traveled the world taking human blood samples, to study the genetic variations in human beings, focusing on the question why some people contract a disease in a given environment, while others do not. In 1964, while studying hepatitis, he discovered a surface antigen for hepatitis B in the blood of an Australian aborigine, hence initially called the ‘Australian antigen.’ His work later demonstrated that the virus could cause liver cancer.1

In 2000, Blumberg received the Golden Gate Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement.3 In 2001, Blumberg was named to the Library of Congress Scholars Council, a body of distinguished scholars that advises the Librarian of Congress. Blumberg served on the council until his death.4

In an interview with The New York Times in 2002, he stated that “[Saving lives] is what drew me to medicine. There is, in Jewish thought, this idea that if you save a single life, you save the whole world.”5

In discussing the factors that influenced his life, Blumberg always gave credit to the mental discipline of the Jewish Talmud, and as often as possible, he attended weekly Talmud Discussion classes until his death.6


#149 – Rachel Schneerson

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Rachel Schneerson was a senior investigator in the Laboratory in Developmental and Molecular Immunity and head of the Section on Bacterial Disease Pathogens and Immunity within the Laboratory at the Eunice Kennedy Shiver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development within the National Institutes of Health.

Scheerson did a rotating internship at Tel-Hashomer Government Hospital, Tel-Aviv, Israel, followed by pediatrics residency at Hillel-Jaffe Government Hospital, Hadera, Israel. She then returned to Tel-Hashomer Government Hospital, in Tel-Aviv for a pediatrics residency and a year as a senior resident in Internal Medicine and Cytogenetics.

Scheerson is also best known for her work on the vaccine for Haemophilus influenza type B, or HiB. Prior to the vaccine’s use, Hib infested 20K U.S. children younger than age 5 each year; 5% died of those, and 1/3 were left with intellectual disability, deafness, or seizures.1

#148 – John B. Robbins

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Dr. John Robbins, Developer of a Meningitis Vaccine, Dies at 86 (NY Times).

Robbins was a recipient of the 1996 Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research, the Pasteur Award from the World Health Organization, and the Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal in 2001, which he received for playing a major role in the development of Hib conjugate vaccine that is now used throughout the world and has led to a dramatic decline in the number of infants and children suffering from meningitis and other systemic infections, such as osteomyelitis and pneumonia.1

#147 – Albert Sabin

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In 1939, he moved to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. During World War II, he was a lieutenant coronel in the U.S. Army Medical Corps and helped develop a vaccine against Japanese encephalitis. Maintaining his association with Children’s Hospital, by 1946, he had also become the head of Pediatric Research at the University of Cincinnati.1

In 1969 – 1972, he lived in Israel, serving as President of Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot. After his return to the United States, he worked (from 1974 – 1982) as a research professor at the Medical University of South Carolina.

For the trivalent oral vaccine consisting of attenuated strains of all three types of the poliovirus, the President of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR awarded the highest civilian honors, the medal of the Order of Friendship Among Peoples. 2

#146 – Jonas Salk

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Jonas Salk was an American virologist famous for his development of one of the first successful polio vaccines.

In 1947, Salk was granted his own lab at the University of Pittsburg School of Medicine, which he soon turned into a working virology laboratory.

The vaccine first came into use in 1955, and in the following years Salk refused to patent his vaccine to increase its distribution.

In 1963, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies was named in his honor and opened in San Diego1History of Salk – Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

#145 – Benjamin Rubin

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Benjamin Rubin was an American microbiologist, famous for his invention of the pronged vaccination needle.

In 1965, Rubin was working for Wyeth Laboratories1Benjamin A. Rubin. It was then when he considered alternatives to the conventional needle and refined it to create a more fork-shaped needle.

Throughout his life, Rubin earned several more patents in radiation devices, vaccines, chemistry, and microbiology.