Vaccine: Timeline of key events

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Francis was a microbiologist and epidemiologist. He is credited with the discovery and isolation of the two strains of virus that cause influenza. Francis discovered the first one (A) in 1934 and the other (B) in 1940. He went on to develop an effective polyvalent vaccine against both strains. Francis was also involved in research that paved the way to the development of antiserums for the treatment of pneumonia. He was also the director of the large-scale clinical trials conducted in 1954 that led to the widespread adoption of the Salk vaccine against poliomyelitis.1900-07-15T00:00:00+0000Stanley was a biochemist and virologist. In 1935 he managed to crystalise the tobacco virus, the causative agent of plant disease. This was a major breakthrough because prior to this no scientists had succeeded in finding out what viruses were. His work laid the foundation for other scientists, using x-ray diffraction, to work out the precise molecular structures and reproduction process of several viruses. During World War II he managed to purify several of the most common influenza viruses and developed a vaccine that was partly effective. In 1946 he shared the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for the 'preparation of enzymes and virus proteins in a pure form.'1904-08-16T00:00:00+0000Sterne 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 while at Lederle Laboratories. He developed the vaccine by attenuating the virus in brain cells of a cotton rat. In January 1948 he injected the vaccine into himself. The vaccine had the advantage that it directly entered the intestinal tract and provided long-lasting immunity. Within 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+0000Invented by Philip Drinker, a young doctor at Harvard, the Iron Lung was the first artificial respirator to help patients to breathe despite being paralysed by polio. Treatment involved sealing a patient into a galvanised iron box from the neck down. Powered by by an electric motor with air pumps from two household vacuum cleaners the box had air pumped in and out to mimic the breathing rate of the patient. The first patient to use the machine was an eight year old girl paralysed with polio being cared for at Children's Hospital in Boston. She made a dramatic recovery within less than a minute of being in the device. The Iron Lung became obsolete after the arrival of the polio vaccine which helped eradicated the disease. 1928-10-12T00:00:00+0000June Almeida was a major pioneer of electron microscopy which helped transform knowledge about virology. She is best known for taking the first electron micrograph of the rubella virus and a human coronavirus. Her work also helped uncover the structure of the hepatitis B virus which paved the way to developing a vaccine against hepatitis B. She also published some of the first high quality images of HIV. 1930-10-05T00:00:00+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 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. He studied a wide variety bacteria, from diarrhoea-causing E. coli Salmonella to bacteria that cause whooping cough and bubonic plague. 1934-01-24T00:00:00+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 to 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+0000Vaccination against yellow fever was introduced in the 1930s. The first British vaccine produced using a mixture of live, mouse-brain passaged virus with human immune serum together with normal serum. Between 1933 and 1938 89 cases of jaundice were observed among 3100 vaccines, about 3% of recipients. Most cases developed the jaundice 2-3 months after vaccination. GM Findlay, F.O. MacCallum, ' Hepatitis and jaundice associated with immunization against certain virus diseases: (section of comparative medicine)', Proc R Soc Med, 31/7 (1938), 799-806.1938-01-01T00:00:00+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+000028,585 US soldiers were affected, 62 died. WA Sawyer, et al. 'Jaundice in Army personnel in the western region of the United States and its relation to vaccination against yellow fever', American Journal of Epidemiology, 39/3 (1944), 337-430; RH Turner, et al., 'Some clinical studies of acute hepatitis occurring in soldiers after inoculation with yellow fever vaccine', Annals Internal Medicine, 20 (1944), 193-218. Alarmed by the report the British government decided not to vaccine the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, against yellow fever. 1942-01-01T00:00:00+000050,000 US Army personal were hospitalised after receiving contaminated batches of yellow fever vaccine. The epidemic affected 300,000 American troops. G. Freeman, 'Epidemiology and incubation period of jaundice following yellow fever vaccination', American Journal Tropical Medicine & Hygiene, s26/1 (1946), 15-32.1946-01-01T00:00:00+0000The breakthrough was made by Hubert Loring and Carlton Schwerdt. They managed to isolate the virus with 80% purity. The work enabled 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, laid the foundation 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+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
15 Jul 1900Thomas Francis Jr was born in Gas City, Indianna, USAFrancisUniversity of MichiganVaccines, Infectious diseases
16 Aug 1904Wendell M Stanley was born in Ridgeville IN, USAStanleyRockefeller InstituteBiochemistry, Virology, Vaccines
1 Jun 1905Max Sterne was born in Trieste, AustriaSterneOnderstepoort Veterinary Research InstituteVaccines, Infectious diseases
28 Oct 1914Jonas Salk was born in New York City, USASalkUniversity of PittsburghVirology, Vaccines, Infectious diseases
25 Aug 1916Frederick Chapman Robbins was born in Auburn AL, USARobbinsWestern Reserve UniversityVirology, Vaccines
5 Dec 1916Hilary Koprowski was born in Warsaw, PolandKoprowskiLederle Laboratories, Wistar InstituteVaccines, Monoclonal antibodies, Infectious diseases
30 Aug 1919Maurice Hilleman was born in Miles City, Montana, USAHillemanMerck & CoVaccines, Infectious diseases
28 Jul 1925Baruch S. Blumberg born in New York NY, USABlumbergFox Chase Cancer Center, University of PennsylvaniaVaccines
1927First viral vaccine developedCarrel, RiversRockefeller UniversityCell culture, Vaccines
12 Oct 1928Iron lung machine used on patient for first timeDrinker Harvard Medical SchoolInfectious diseases, Medical devices, Vaccines, Infectious diseases
5 Oct 1930June Almeida was born in Glasgow, ScotlandAlmeidaHammersmith Postgraduate Medical SchoolVirology, Vaccines, Infectious diseases
29 Oct 1933Albert Calmette diedCalmetteInstitute PasteurVaccines
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, Vaccines
28 Feb 1936Charles J H Nicolle diedNicolle Vaccines
1938Jaundice and hepatitis found in 3% of 3,100 recipients of yellow fever vaccineFindlay, MacCallum Vaccines
4 Sep 1940Hans Zinsser diedZinsserColumbia University, Stanford University, Harvard UniversityBacteriology, Vaccines
1942Yellow fever vaccine containing human serum caused massive jaundice outbreak in US armySawyer, Turner Vaccines, Infectious diseases
Jan 1946Largest outbreak of serum hepatitis recorded following yellow vaccine campaign  Vaccines, Infectious diseases
10 Jan 1947First time polio virus was isolatedLoring, SchwerdtStanford UniversityVaccines, Virology, Infectious diseases
30 Apr 1947Almroth E Wright diedWrightSt Mary's HospitalBacteriology, Immunology, Vaccines

15 Jul 1900

Thomas Francis Jr was born in Gas City, Indianna, USA

16 Aug 1904

Wendell M Stanley was born in Ridgeville IN, USA

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

12 Oct 1928

Iron lung machine used on patient for first time

5 Oct 1930

June Almeida was born in Glasgow, Scotland

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


Jaundice and hepatitis found in 3% of 3,100 recipients of yellow fever vaccine

4 Sep 1940

Hans Zinsser died


Yellow fever vaccine containing human serum caused massive jaundice outbreak in US army

Jan 1946

Largest outbreak of serum hepatitis recorded following yellow vaccine campaign

10 Jan 1947

First time polio virus was isolated

30 Apr 1947

Almroth E Wright died

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