Vaccine: Timeline of key events

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Sterne pioneered a vaccine against anthrax in 1935 which effectively wiped out the disease. He used Pasteur's methods to develop the vaccine while based at Onderstepoort Veterinary Research Institute, north of Pretoria, in South Africa. His method remains the mainstay for the production of anthrax vaccines for livestock today. In addition to the vaccine he developed bacterial culture methods for both anthrax and botulism and his work laid the foundation for a number of highly successful veterinary and animal vaccines.1905-06-01T00:00:00+0000A medical researcher and virologist, Salk pioneered the first safe and effective polio vaccine. Introduced in 1955, Salk's vaccine helped curb one of the most frightening public health diseases in the world. Over 1,800,000 school children took part in the trial to test his vaccine. His vaccine used killed virus rather than weakened forms of the strain of polio used by Sabin to develop another vaccine against the disease. Salk refused to patent his vaccine and made his technique as widely available as possible. His polio vaccine is now on the World Health Organisation's List of Essential Medicine.1914-10-28T00:00:00+0000Robbins was a paediatrician and virologist who made his name in 1941 by helping to develop a tissue culture technique to grow the polio virus, one of the most feared diseases at the time. The method involved the growth of the virus using a mixture of human embryonic skin and muscle tissue. It provided an important step towards the development of a vaccine against polio. The tissue culture technique also helped scientists discover new respiratory viruses and paved the way to culturing the measles virus to make a vaccine against it. Robbins shared the 1954 Nobel Prize for Medicine for his work.1916-08-25T00:00:00+0000A virologist, Koprowski invented the world's first effective live polio vaccine. This he did while at Lederle Laboratories. He developed the vaccine by attentuating the virus in brain cells of a cotton rat. He injected the vaccine into himself in January 1948. The vaccine had the advantage that it entered the intestinal tract directly and provided long-lasting immunity. With a decade the vaccine had been adopted on four continents. Koprowski went on to become the director of the Wistar Institute where in the 1960s he led efforts to improve the rabies vaccine. He subsequently became the first scientist, together with colleagues, to hold a patent for monoclonal antibodies. Born to Jewish parents, Koprowski was forced to flee Poland in 1939 after Germany invaded the country. 1916-12-05T00:00:00+0000Hilleman, a microbiologist, is credited with having saved more children's lives than any other medical scientist in the 20th century. He pioneered eight out of the fourteen vaccines routinely recommended for children today. This includes the vaccines for measles, mumps, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, chickenpox, meningitis, pneumonia and Haemophilus influenzae bacteria. Hilleman developed these vaccines as head of Merck & Co's virus and cell biology research department. 1919-08-30T00:00:00+0000Blumberg was a physician and geneticist who won the Nobel Prize in 1976 for his discovery of a surface antigen for the hepatitis B virus. He found the antigen while conducting work on blood samples from different populations from around the world to understand genetic variations in susceptibility to disease. The antigen was first spotted testing a blood sample from a haemophiliac patient in New York against blood taken from a visiting Korean physician. Blumberg's discovery paved the way to the development of the first screen test for hepatitis B to prevent its spread in blood donations. His research also helped in the creation of the first vaccine against the disease, which to this day is the gold standard in the management of the disease. 1925-07-28T00:00:00+0000The vaccine was developed by Alexis Carel with Tom Rivers. It was made from vaccinia, or cowpox virus, collected from calf lymph fluid. The vaccine did not prove successful as it did not provide sufficient protection against smallpox, but it showed a way of developing safer vaccines by growing the virus in tissue culture. The technique was published in A Carrel, TM Rivers, 'La Fabrication du vaccin in vitro', Comptes Rendus Soc Biol, 96 (1927), 848. One of the advantages with the new method was that the vaccine had fewer side effects and did not leave a scar after vaccination. 1927-01-01T00:00:00+0000Calmette was a French physician and bacteriologist who is credited with the discovery that the virulence of bovine tubercle bacilli is weakened when cultured on bile-containing medium. Discovered in 1908, this laid paved the way to the development of the tuberculosis vaccine Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG). The vaccine was first used in newborn infants in Paris in 1921. Calmette also developed a diagnostic test for tuberculosis, known as Calmette's reaction.1933-10-29T00:00:00+0000Falkow was a microbiologist who made his scientific mark by showing how bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics. During the 1960s he demonstrated that bacteria could acquire resistance by swapping genetic material via plasmids, small microbial DNA molecules. Thereafter he focused his attention on how pathogens cause disease and in 1985 helped to identify a single genetic locus in Yersinia pseudotuberculosis, a Gram-negative bacteria, that accounts for its ability to infect cultured animal cells. He later showed that a sub-type of E. coli caused a life-threatening diarrhoea prevalent in many low-income countries. Known as the founder of molecular pathogenesis, Falkow's work paved the way to the development of new vaccines, including for whooping cough. He also helped to devise a uniform nomenclature for bacterial plasmids1934-01-24T00:00:00+0000Nicolle was a French bacteriologist who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1903 for identifying lice as the transmission vector for epidemic typhus and by working out how tick fever is transmitted. He also helped discover the parasite responsible for toxoplasmosis, a common infection that is usually harmless but can cause serious problems in some people. Nicolle also developed a vaccine for Malta fever, a disease now called brucellosis.1936-02-28T00:00:00+0000An American physician and bacteriologist, Zinsser isolated the bacterium that causes typhus and developed a protective vaccine against it. In 1935 he published the book 'Rats, Live and History' in which he recounted the effects of typhus on mankind and the efforts to eradicate it. In the book he argued that disease was responsible for more deaths than war.1940-09-04T00:00:00+0000The breakthrough was made by Hubert Loring and Carlton Schwerdt. They managed to isolate the virus with 80% purity. The work paved the way for the team to create the first vaccine in August 1947. Schwerdt continued to improve the technique and by 1953 had managed to isolate 100% pure polio virus with Bachrach Howard, which paved the way for Jonas Salk to create a safe vaccine in 1955. 1947-01-10T00:00:00+0000Wright was a British bacteriologist and immunologist who pioneered the development of a vaccine against typhoid in the 1890s. Initially the British military authorities were reluctant to roll out the vaccine, but limited trials during the Boer War proved its value. Further trials conducted among 3,000 soldiers in India confirmed its efficacy and the War Office used it to vaccinate British troops at the outset of World War I. Wright also developed vaccines against enteric tuberculosis and pneumonia. He also instrumental in research to understand how blood enzymes make bacteria more susceptible to phagocytosis by white blood cells.1947-04-30T00:00:00+0000The work was carried out by John Enders, Thomas Huckle Weller ad Frederick Chapman Robbins. They published their achievement in TH Weller, FC Robbins, JH Enders, 'Cultivation of poliomyelitis virus in cultures of human foreskin and embryonic tissues', Science, 109/2822 (1949), 85-7. The work paved the way for the two kinds of effective poliovirus vaccine, the inactivated poliovirus vaccine of Jonas E. Salk and the live oral polio vaccine of Albert B. Sabin. The three scientists received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1954. 1949-01-28T00:00:00+0000The first polio vaccine, developed by Jonas Salk, was tested on children from Arsenal Elementary School in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Nearly 2 million children in 44 states were tested. The trial showed the vaccine to be effective. The vaccine radically reduced the number of polio victims around the world.1954-02-23T00:00:00+0000Goodpasture developed a method of culturing viruses in chicken embryos and fertilized chicken eggs. Before this viruses were grown in living tissues which could be contaminated by bacteria. Goodpasture's method laid the foundation for the development of vaccines for smallpox, yellow fever, typhus and chicken pox.1960-09-20T00:00:00+0000Created by Leonard Hayflick and Paul S Moorhead.1962-01-01T00:00:00+0000Developed by Samuel Katz and John F Enders, the vaccine would later be incorporated into the MMR, a combination vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella.1963-01-01T00:00:00+0000The vaccine was made by Maurice Hilleman using material taken from his daughter, Jeryl Lynn, when she suffered measles. The Jeryl strain of the mumps vaccine is still in use today and used in the MMR vaccine.1963-01-01T00:00:00+0000Dick was an American physician who made her by studying scarlet fever. In 1923 she and her husband George Dick, worked out that the disease was caused by a toxin released by a strain of Streptococcus bacteria. This enabled them to create an antitoxin for treatment and vaccine for prevention. She also devised a technique to prevent cross infection of scarlet fever among infants. Known as the Dick Aseptic Nursery Technique this promoted strict sterilisation and aseptic procedures.1963-08-21T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
1 Jun 1905Max Sterne was born in Trieste, AustriaSterneOnderstepoort Veterinary Research InstituteVaccine
28 Oct 1914Jonas Salk was born in New York City, USASalkUniversity of PittsburghVirology, Vaccine
25 Aug 1916Frederick Chapman Robbins was born in Auburn AL, USARobbinsWestern Reserve UniversityVirology, Vaccine
5 Dec 1916Hilary Koprowski was born in Warsaw, PolandKoprowskiLederle Laboratories, Wistar InstituteVaccines, Monoclonal antibodies
30 Aug 1919Maurice Hilleman was born in Miles City, Montana, USAHillemanMerck & CoVaccines
28 Jul 1925Baruch S. Blumberg born in New York NY, USABlumbergFox Chase Cancer Center, University of PennsylvaniaVaccines
1927First viral vaccine developedCarrel, RiversRockefeller UniversityCell culture, Vaccine
29 Oct 1933Albert Calmette diedCalmetteInstitute PasteurVaccine
24 Jan 1934Stanley Falkow was born in Albany, New York, USAFalkowGeorgetown University School of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Stanford UniversityAntimicrobial resistance, Plasmids, Vaccine
28 Feb 1936Charles J H Nicolle diedNicolle Vaccine
4 Sep 1940Hans Zinsser diedZinsserColumbia University, Stanford University, Harvard UniversityBacteriology, Vaccines
10 Jan 1947First time polio virus was isolatedLoring, SchwerdtStanford UniversityVaccine, Virology
30 Apr 1947Almroth E Wright diedWrightSt Mary's HospitalBacteriology, Immunology, Vaccines
28 Jan 1949Polio virus successfully grown on human embryonic cells in cultureEnders, Weller, RobbinsBoston Children's HospitalCell culture, Vaccine, Virology
23 Feb 1954Salk polio vaccine trial beganSalkUniversity of PittsburghVirology, Vaccine
20 Sep 1960Ernest Goodpasture diedGoodpastureHarvard UniversityVirology, Vaccine
1962WI-38 cell line developed - important to development of vaccinesHayflick, MoorheadWistar InstituteVaccine, Virology
1963 - 1963Development of first attentuated measles virus vaccineEnders, Katz Vaccine, Virology
1963Creation of first vaccine against mumpsHillemanMerck & CoVaccines, Virology
21 Aug 1963Gladys Rowena Henry Dick diedGladys DickUniversity of Chicago, John R. McCormick Institute for Infectious Diseases, St Luke's HospitalVaccine

1 Jun 1905

Max Sterne was born in Trieste, Austria

28 Oct 1914

Jonas Salk was born in New York City, USA

25 Aug 1916

Frederick Chapman Robbins was born in Auburn AL, USA

5 Dec 1916

Hilary Koprowski was born in Warsaw, Poland

30 Aug 1919

Maurice Hilleman was born in Miles City, Montana, USA

28 Jul 1925

Baruch S. Blumberg born in New York NY, USA


First viral vaccine developed

29 Oct 1933

Albert Calmette died

24 Jan 1934

Stanley Falkow was born in Albany, New York, USA

28 Feb 1936

Charles J H Nicolle died

4 Sep 1940

Hans Zinsser died

10 Jan 1947

First time polio virus was isolated

30 Apr 1947

Almroth E Wright died

28 Jan 1949

Polio virus successfully grown on human embryonic cells in culture

23 Feb 1954

Salk polio vaccine trial began

20 Sep 1960

Ernest Goodpasture died


WI-38 cell line developed - important to development of vaccines

1963 - 1963

Development of first attentuated measles virus vaccine


Creation of first vaccine against mumps

21 Aug 1963

Gladys Rowena Henry Dick died