New this week on The History of Vaccines are interviews with two vaccine pioneers, Baruch Blumberg, MD, PhD, and Robert Austrian, MD.
The History of Vaccines interviewed Dr. Blumberg here at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia in November 2010. Dr. Blumberg discussed the fieldwork that led to his discovery of the Australia antigen, the challenges of investigating the nature of the Australia antigen, the discovery of its relationship to the hepatitis B virus, and his work on the serum-based hepatitis B vaccine. He also discussed (only after prompting from us!) being awarded the Nobel Prize in 1976, his subsequent travels in China at a time when very few Westerners had been there, and results of studies of reduction of HBV prevalence associated with the vaccine.
In the video linked above, Dr. Blumberg relates a series of observations that led his team to connect presence of the Australia antigen with hepatitis B infection in a boy with Down syndrome.
Visit the Nobel Prize website for Dr. Blumberg’s autobiography and text of the Nobel lecture he delivered in 1976.
Infectious disease physican and Chief Medical Officer of the Penn Health System P.J. Brennan, MD, interviewed Dr. Austrian (1916-2007) in 2000, and we’re fortunate that Dr. Brennan shared his tape with us. In the interview segments, Dr. Austrian discusses his initial investigations into the prevalence of pneumococcal pneumonia, the assumptions he worked against that antimicrobials had “solved” the problem of pneumococcal pneumonia, and his pneumococcal vaccine trial among gold miners in South Africa. (The latter subject is discussed in the video linked here.)
Dr. Austrian’s New York Times obituary describes his life and work.
View The History of Vaccines video Gallery to browse and view the new videos of Drs. Blumberg and Austrian. We’ve published six segments from the interview with Dr. Austrian and twelve from the interview with Dr. Blumberg. All are displayed in chronological order in the Gallery.