7 Less-Obvious Historical Vaccine Pioneers

Written by on September 11, 2013 in Featured on App with 3 Comments

Dr Thomas Peebles (1921 - 2010)

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Dr Thomas Peebles, an American physician, was the first person to isolate the measles virus for use in vaccines. In 1954, when Dr Peebles was just two years out of medical school, he was instructed by virologist and Nobel laureate John Enders to travel to a school that was suffering from an outbreak of measles.

Once there, Dr Peebles took blood samples and throat swabs from the infected students – including from 11-year-old pupil David Edmonston. It was from Edmonston’s throat swab that Dr Peebles was able to isolate the measles virus – a crucial first step in the development of a vaccine that has almost eradicated measles in many developed countries. The breakthrough with measles wasn’t Dr Peebles only contribution to vaccination – he also led a team that discovered that tetanus booster shots could be given every 10 years.

Read more about Dr Thomas Peebles at New York Times >

[Image source: Flickr - perpetualplum]


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  1. R.Horowski MD pharmacologist says:

    Nice stories,even not only about Anglo-Americans! But why never Ehrlich,Behring,Bordet,Köhler,Jerne,Milstein, Susumo,zur Hausen? For those who never have heard those names: they all had a Nobel prize for vaccine-related major discoveries…

    • Tim says:

      Thanks for the comment and suggestions! I would have loved to have included lots more names, but there’s so many great people to choose from. Perhaps a Part 2 is needed!

  2. D. Vellom says:

    There’s a typo in here I’m sure (re Kendrick and Eldering & pertussis vaccine):
    “…the whooping cough incidence in the US had been reduced from 209 cases/100,000 in 1934 to 51 cases/1000 in 1948″

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