Albert Sabin
Born Albert Sabin
(1906-08-26)26 August 1906
Białystok, Russian Empire
Died 3 March 1993(1993-03-03) (aged 86)
Washington, D.C, United States
Heart failure
Citizenship Poland, United States
Fields Immunology, virology
Alma mater New York University
Known for Oral polio vaccine
Notable awards National Medal of Science (1970)
John Howland Award (1974)
Presidential Medal of Freedom (1986)
Spouse Sylvia Tregillus (1935–1966; her death; two children)
Jane Warner (1967–1971; divorced)
Heloisa Dunshee de Abranches (1972–1993; his death)

Albert Bruce Sabin (August 26, 1906 Białystok, Russian Empire (today Poland)– March 3, 1993) was an American medical researcher best known for having developed an oral polio vaccine.


Sabin was born in Białystok, Russian Empire (today Poland), to Polish-Jewish parents, Jacob and Tillie Krugman Saperstein. In 1922, he emigrated with his family to America. In 1930, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States and changed his name to Sabin.

Sabin received a medical degree from New York University in 1931. He trained in internal medicine, pathology, and surgery at Bellevue Hospital in New York City from 1931–1933. In 1934, he conducted research at The Lister Institute for Preventive Medicine in England, then joined the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research (now Rockefeller University). During this time, he developed an intense interest in research, especially in the area of infectious diseases. In 1939, he moved to Cincinnati Children's Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. During World War II, he was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Medical Corps and helped develop a vaccine against Japanese encephalitis. Maintaining his association with Children's Hospital, by 1946, he had also become the head of Pediatric Research at the University of Cincinnati. At Cincinnati's Children's Hospital, Sabin supervised the fellowship of Robert M. Chanock, whom he called his "star scientific son."[1]

Sabin went on a fact-finding trip to Cuba in 1967 to discuss with Cuban officials the possibility of establishing a collaborative relationship between the United States and Cuba through their respective national academies of sciences, in spite of the fact that the two countries did not have formal diplomatic ties.[2]

In 1969-1972, he lived and worked in Israel as the President of Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot. After his return to the United States, he worked (1974–1982) as a research professor at the Medical University of South Carolina. He later moved to Washington, D.C. area, where he was a resident scholar at the John E. Fogarty International Center on the NIH campus in Bethesda, MD.

Sabin (right) with Robert C. Gallo, M.D., circa 1985

Polio research

With the menace of polio growinmost notably Jonas Salk in Pittsburgh and Hilary Koprowski and Herald Cox in New York and Philadelphia, sought a vaccine to prevent or mitigate the illness. The Sabin vaccine is an oral vaccine containing weakened forms of strains of polio viruses. They stimulate the body defences against polio without causing the disease. In 1955, Salk's "killed" vaccine was released for use. It was effective in preventing most of the complications of polio, but did not prevent the initial intestinal infection. The Sabin vaccine is easier to give than the earlier vaccine developed by Salk in 1954, and its effects last longer. In addition, those who received the Salk vaccine could pass on the polio virus. Sabin first tested his live attenuated oral vaccine at the Chillicothe Ohio Reformatory in late 1954. From 1956-1960, he worked with Russian colleagues to perfect the oral vaccine and prove its extraordinary effectiveness and safety. The Sabin vaccine worked in the intestines to block the poliovirus from entering the bloodstream. In the intestines, Sabin had discovered, the poliovirus multiplied and attacked. Thus, the oral vaccine broke the chain of transmission of the virus and allowed for the possibility that polio might one day be eradicated.

Between 1955 and 1961, the oral vaccine was tested on at least 100 million people in the USSR, parts of Eastern Europe, Singapore, Mexico, and the Netherlands. The first industrial production and mass use of oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) from Sabin strains was organized by Soviet scientist Mikhail Chumakov.[3][4] This provided the critical impetus for allowing large-scale clinical trials of OPV in the United States in April 1960 on 180,000 Cincinnati school children. The mass immunization techniques that Sabin pioneered with his associates effectively eradicated polio in Cincinnati. Against considerable opposition from the March of Dimes Foundation, which supported the relatively effective killed vaccine, Sabin prevailed on the Public Health Service to license his three strains of vaccine. While the PHS stalled, the USSR sent millions of doses of the oral vaccine to places with polio epidemics, such as Japan, and reaped the humanitarian benefit. Indeed, it was not clear to many that the vaccine was an American one, financed by U.S. dollars, but not available to ordinary Americans.

Sabin also developed vaccines against other viral diseases, including encephalitis and dengue. In addition, he investigated possible links between viruses and some forms of cancer.

Later life

In 1983, Sabin developed calcification of the cervical spine, which caused paralysis and intense pain.[5][6] Sabin revealed in a television interview that the experience had made him decide to spend the rest of his life working on alleviating pain.[7] This condition was successfully treated by surgery conducted at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1992 when Sabin was 86. A year later, Sabin died in Washington, D.C., from heart failure.

Honors and awards

See also

References

Notes
  1. ^ Brown, Emma. "Robert M. Chanock, virologist who studied children's diseases, dies at 86", The Washington Post, August 4, 2010. Accessed August 9, 2010.
  2. ^ Jiménez, Marguerite (06.09.14). "Epidemics and Opportunities for U.S.-Cuba Collaboration". Science & Diplomacy 3 (2). 
  3. ^ Sabin, A.B. Role of my cooperation with Soviet scientists in the elimination of polio: possible lessons for relations between the U.S.A. and the USSR. Perspect Biol Med. 1987 Autumn; 31(1):57-64.
  4. ^ Benison, S. International Medical Cooperation: Dr. Albert Sabin, Live Poliovirus Vaccine and the Soviets. Bulletin of the History of Medicine 56 (1982), 460-83.
  5. ^ Philip Boffey, Sabin, Paralyzed, Tells of Death Wish. In the New York Times, November 27, 1983.
  6. ^ Ezra Bowen, The Doctor Whose Vaccine Saved Millions from Polio Battles Back from a Near-Fatal Paralysis. In People, July 2, 1984.
  7. ^ Health Care; The Fight Against Death. Special comment by Keith Olbermann on Countdown, 2009-10-07.
  8. ^ National Science Foundation online exhibit
  9. ^ USPS press release.
  10. ^ Capitol Square Foundation press release
Bibliography

External links

  • Dr. Albert Sabin's Discovery of the Oral Polio Vaccine, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
  • Obituary, NY Times, March 4, 1993
  • Sabin Vaccine Institute
  • Hauck Center for the Albert B. Sabin Archives, University of Cincinnati
  • The Albert B. Sabin Digitization Project Blog, University of Cincinnati
  • The Albert B. Sabin Archives Digital Collection, University of Cincinnati
  • The Finding Aid for the Albert B. Sabin Papers, University of Cincinnati

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