History of Vaccines Blog

April 23, 2013  Karie Youngdahl

We’re spending National Infant Immunization Week in Baltimore at the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases Annual Conference on Vaccine Research. It’s three full days of sessions focused on research into existing and new vaccines, as well as research on epidemiologic and public health aspects of infectious diseases and vaccines. One of the main threads at the first day of the conference was disease eradication. DA Henderson, MD, opened the conference with a keynote address on the feat of smallpox eradication through vaccination. He highlighted the unique qualities of smallpox that made it an ideal candidate for eradication and compared some of these factors with parallel characteristics of polio. (Dr. Henderson discussed some of these characteristics in our interview with him.) In every category, polio is a more complicated disease

Posted in: Public Health, Smallpox, Vaccine Research

April 13, 2013  Karie Youngdahl

 Hilary Koprowski, Fellow of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia and a member of the advisory board for The History of Vaccines, died on April 11, 2013. He was 96 years old. Born in Poland in 1915, Koprowski’s long tenure in vaccine research began in 1939 when he received an M.D. degree from the University of Warsaw. After moving to the United States, he developed the first live oral polio vaccine to be used in large-scale trials, administered to the first child in 1950.

Posted in: General, Polio

March 14, 2013  Karie Youngdahl

On March 13, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Vaccine Education Center sponsored a vaccine update webinar with Paul A. Offit, MD, as the speaker and moderator. Dr. Offit discussed vaccine-related items in the news as well as decisions taken at recent Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) meetings in Atlanta. First on the agenda was a discussion of pertussis vaccine, particularly as it relates to a February 7 letter to the New England Journal of Medicine in which researchers (Queenan, Cassidy, & Evangelista) called attention to new strains of Bordatella pertussis that the group had observed at St. Christopher’s Hospital in Philadelphia. Specifically, these strains were classified as pertactin-negative. Pertactin is a protein that is normally a component of B. pertussis, and it is one several antigenic proteins in acellular pertussis vaccines. The letter questioned whether the acellular vaccine was generating pressure on B. pertussis, thus leading to the emergence of these pertactin-negative strains.

Posted in: Meningococcal disease, Influenza, Pertussis (whooping cough)

March 11, 2013  Karie Youngdahl

Instead of a teething ring, I had a passport. Between a military father and diplomatic step-father, my family moved every year or two or three to exotic places, from Taiwan to the Philippines to Ecuador. Tucked into my passport was another essential travel document, the International Certificates of Vaccination issued by the federal government, a yellow-paper catalog of inoculations with separate pages for smallpox, yellow fever, and cholera. When traveling during the 1950s and 1960s, before computerized databases, immigration officials examined my passport in one hand, the dog-eared vaccination record in the other. Reviewing the vaccination record now, I still derive the same satisfaction that I experienced as a school kid in reading my vaccination history—which we kids called our “shot records”--as a chronology of health accomplishment, a medical report card. A visit to the doctor before taking a trip became so routine that I ceased to fear needle punctures. Rather, I looked forward to having the administering physician sign and return my vaccination record.

Posted in: Cholera, Historical Medical Library, Yellow Fever

February 28, 2013  Karie Youngdahl

We at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia were honored to host Anne Schuchat, MD, Acting Director, CDC’s Center for Global Health, on February 26. 2013. Dr. Schuchat was here to accept—symbolically, because as a government employee, she was unable to receive the actual medal—the Jonathan E. Rhoads Medal. The College, the American Philosophical Society, and University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Surgery award this medal annually. Schuchat has worked for the CDC since 1988, when she was an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer. Her biography, which includes a description of her important work on preventing Group B streptococcal disease in newborns, can be found here.

Posted in: Public Health

February 27, 2013  Karie Youngdahl

Thanks to Joshua Prasad, MPH student at Drexel University School of Public Health, for putting together the information from the White House in an easy-to-read way. Most of you are probably following the news about the potential sequester that may begin on March 1. If US lawmakers can’t come to an agreement to avert the sequester, many federal agencies and programs will need to make across the board budget cuts of 10%. One area in which the cuts may be felt is seasonal influenza response and planning. Representative Henry Waxman summarized CDC Director Tom Friedan’s description of the effects of sequestration on CDC’s influenza immunization activities in the following way:

Posted in: Public Health

February 25, 2013  Project Director

It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of our long-time Fellow and Presidential Advisor, C. Everett Koop, MD, ScD. Dr. Koop was more than a colleague: he was a mentor, advisor, and teacher, but most importantly, our brother and friend. His dedication to our profession and service to this College helped us all better understand what it means to be part of medicine.  His compassion for his patients taught us how to be good and caring physicians.

Posted in: General

February 25, 2013  Karie Youngdahl

What does the following list mean to you? Bill Gates, Stanley Plotkin, Rino Rappouli, Melinda Gates, Seth Berkley, Paul Offit, Suresh Jadhav, Ted Bianco, Ciro de Quadro, Gordon Dougan. Followers of the blog and LinkedIn group Vaccine Nation chose the ten as the most influential people in the vaccine world. Vaccine Nation is run by Terrapinn, a media company that sponsors conferences on, among other things, vaccines and orphan drugs. The full list of vaccine influencers is 50 names long, and includes individuals in academia and research institutes, industry, NGOs and nonprofits, and government.

Posted in: General

January 28, 2013  Karie Youngdahl

As of today, The History of Vaccines has published a book. This book has been in the making for the past few months and features new material and material adapted from the History of Vaccines website. The book showcases more than 40 illustrations and photographs, many of them drawn from the Historical Medical Library here at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. It was generously funded by an independent educational grant from Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc.

Posted in: General

January 17, 2013  Project Director

We've just posted a set of video clips of an interview we conducted in October 2012 with March of Dimes archivist David Rose. Rose was here to give a talk about the Foundation's involvement in polio treatment and vaccine research and promotion from the 1930s through the 1960s. He discussed the role of U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt in found the March of Dimes and funding medical treatments for children and adults with paralytic polio. Addtionally, he gave an overview of the principle researchers investigating poliovirus at the time: the Enders team in Boston, Jonas Salk at the University of Pittsburgh, and Albert Sabin at the Universty of Cincinnati.

Posted in: Polio