About Baruch S. Blumberg
Baruch S. Blumberg, MD, DPhil, had immense curiosity and energy, which were distinguishing attributes of his scientific persona.
A leading light in the scientific community and a great humanitarian, Dr. Blumberg identified the hepatitis B virus and created the first vaccine to prevent infection with the virus.
Following decades of research aimed at determining why some people become sick and others did not and traveling to remote areas around the world, Dr. Blumberg identified the antigen for hepatitis B in the blood of an Australian aborigine in 1964. This surface antigen, or immune response trigger for the virus, led to identification of the complete hepatitis B virus and its role in causing acute and chronic hepatitis and liver cancer.
Once the virus and its antigen were identified, Dr. Blumberg and his team developed tests to detect it. This breakthrough resulted in the accurate diagnosis of affected individuals, protection of the blood supply and development of a vaccine. By preventing chronic hepatitis B, which can lead to liver cancer, the vaccine effectively became the first “anti-cancer” vaccine.
In 1976, Dr. Blumberg won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering the hepatitis B virus. He and his colleagues discovered the virus in 1967, and invented the first hepatitis B vaccine in 1969.
Dr. Blumberg wrote a fascinating, brief autobiography at the request of the Nobel Prize committee, which is posted here.
Dr. Blumberg dedicated most of his scientific career to the problem of hepatitis B, and was a tremendous source of inspiration for the Hepatitis B Foundation. His many years of professional encouragement and personal support were invaluable to the Foundation’s ongoing efforts to find a cure to complete the circle of discovery that began when he identified the virus. As Co-Founder and Distinguished Scientist, Dr. Blumberg provided valuable experience, guidance and inspiration over 20 years to all of the scientists, staff, volunteers and board members. He served on the Scientific and Medical Advisory Board of the Hepatitis B Foundation and as its Distinguished Scholar from 1992 until his passing in 2011.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Dr. Blumberg was the Senior Advisor to the President of Philadelphia's Fox Chase Cancer Center, and Professor of Medicine and Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1999, he was asked to serve as Director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute in California and subsequently was appointed NASA's Senior Advisor to the Administrator for Biology, headquartered in Washington, D.C.
These outstanding accomplishments have contributed significantly towards making the world a much healthier place to live.