The College of Physicians of Philadelphia celebrated the official launch of The History of Vaccines website on November 3 with a lecture by Stanley A. Plotkin, MD, titled “Four Centuries of Vaccinology.” About 150 people attended the lecture and the reception afterward.
Dr. Plotkin, developer of the rubella vaccine now used worldwide, discussed the many discoveries made and challenges overcome by vaccinologists since the development of the first vaccine against smallpox in the late 1700s. His talk, which was also broadcast on the web (see The College’s livestream page to view an archived copy of the lecture) particularly noted the contributions made to the field of vaccinology by individuals and companies in the Philadelphia region.
He discussed the pioneering use of human diploid cells in vaccine development by The Wistar Institute (where he had a laboratory for many years) as well as hopes for future innovations in vaccine development and manufacturing, including advances in genetic engineering and the expansion of vaccine targets to include chronic conditions.
Dr. Plotkin’s lecture was sponsored by The College’s Section on Medical History as its Samuel X Radbill lecture. Dr. Radbill (1901-1987) was a pediatrician and medical historian whose life and practice centered in Philadelphia. He established several free pediatric clinics in Philadelphia neighborhoods where immunizations were provided. He was elected a Fellow of the College in 1943, and his medical history and bookplate collections were later donated to the College’s Historical Medical Library. The Radbill Lectureship was established to honor his memory and as well as his enthusiastic advocacy for medical history. We were honored that Dr. Radbill’s daughters, Gloria Hamilton and Estelle Radbill Berley, attended the event.