Doctor Hilary Koprowski, the Polish immigrant whose legacy was assured because he was bright enough to unravel the mystery of polio vaccinations, has died in Philadelphia at the age of 96.
He passed away in the same home he’d lived in for 60 years.
It is likely that few people outside the cloistered world of immunology might recognize his name, but very, very few of us are untouched by his work. For although fellow researchers Albert Sabin and Jonas Salk became considerably more famous in the noble quest to eradicate the crippling disease called polio 60 years ago, it was Koprowski who first demonstrated that it was possible to administer effective innoculations by mouth.
And to prove it, Koprowski bravely took the first swig of anti-polio vaccine goo himself, in 1948, 20 months before the better-known Jonas Salk injectable version.
According to the World Health Organization, actual cases of polio – known now as the (cVDPV2) virus – have been cut by 99% over the last 30 years. In our part of the world it is gone.
In the years after his early discoveries, in the late 1950s, Koprowski directed continued vaccine developments at the Wistar Institute, a research center that created effective innoculations for both rabies and German measles, among others.
We think the world owes a great debt to Doctor Koprowski – as well as doctors Sabin and Salk -because the disease of polio was a real – and terrifying – human scourge.
Here’s more discovery on a true American hero: http://www.koprowski.net/documents/article.html
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