Advisory Panel Recommends HPV Vaccine for Prevention of Anal Cancer

HPV-16 L1 Virus-Like-Particles. Photo credit:  John T. Schiller, Ph.D., Center for Cancer Research. There are two vaccines, Gardasil (made by Merck) and Cervarix (made by GlaxoSmithKline), approved to prevent cervical cancer caused by HPV (human papillomavirus). Both vaccines protect against HPV strains 16 and 18, which are estimated to account for 70% of cervical and vaginal cancer cases. Gardasil (human papillomavirus [HPV] vaccine, quadrivalent) also offers protection against two strains that cause genital warts.

Gardasil was the first of the two vaccines to be introduced in the United States. In 2006, it was approved for use in preventing cervical cancer and genital warts for girls and women between nine and 26 years of age. Since then, based on additional data, it has also been approved for the prevention of vulvar and vaginal cancer, and for the prevention of genital warts in boys and men between nine and 26 years of age. Now, new data have led a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel to recommend expanding the vaccine's use to include the prevention of anal cancer, a disease whose incidence doubled in the United States between 1975 and 2007. More

Friday, November 12 Is World Pneumonia Day

Globally, pneumonia remains the most deadly disease for children younger than five. Yet with a combination of vaccination efforts and treatment with antibiotics, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) calls pneumonia "one of the most solvable problems in global health."

As a reminder of the disease's impact and the importance of global efforts to stop preventable deaths from pneumonia, GAVI and a host of other organizations have announced that Friday, November 12, will be the second annual World Pneumonia Day. As part of this effort to raise awareness, the organizing groups have offered several ways for people to get involved, including wearing blue jeans on Friday to raise awareness about pneumonia's impact worldwide (as the organizers put it, "We tried to come up with a painless (and free!) way to communicate that we must pay attention to these preventable deaths. What we came up with is a world-wide blue jean day. The reason is simple: Children who are dying of pneumonia turn blue because they can't breathe") and sending "Pneumonia Grams" to public officials, asking them to consider pneumonia as a priority issue. (See More

Stanley A. Plotkin, MD, Discusses "Four Centuries of Vaccinology" at History of Vaccines Launch Event

Dr. Plotkin discusses global vaccination coverage. The College of Physicians of Philadelphia The College of Physicians of Philadelphia celebrated the official launch of The History of Vaccines website with a lecture by Stanley A. Plotkin, MD, titled "Four Centuries of Vaccinology." Dr. Plotkin, developer of the rubella vaccine now used worldwide, discussed the many discoveries made and challenges overcome by vaccinologists since the development of the first vaccine against smallpox in the late 1700s. His talk, which was also broadcast on the web particularly noted the contributions made to the field of vaccinology by individuals and companies in the Philadelphia region. He discussed the pioneering use of human diploid cells in vaccine development by The Wistar Institute (where he had a laboratory for many years) as well as hopes for future innovations in vaccine development and manufacturing, including advances in genetic engineering and the expansion of vaccine targets to include chronic conditions. More

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Live Webcast: "Four Centuries of Vaccinology," by Stanley A. Plotkin, MD

Stanley A. Plotkin, MD Join us for a History of Vaccines launch event. Stanley A. Plotkin, MD, developer of the rubella vaccine in worldwide use today, will deliver a lecture entitled "Four Centuries of Vaccinology" on November 3, at 6:30 pm at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. View the live webcast by pointing your browser to around 6:30 pm Eastern time, Wednesday, 11/3. (We will remove the password requirement shortly before the webcast.) Or, if you're in Philadelphia, join us at the lecture. See The College of Physicians of Philadelphia's Events Calendar to register for the lecture. More

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Rarely Seen: Our Curator Discusses the Iron Lung

The iron lung became one of the most iconic objects of the polio scourge. Mütter Museum Curator Anna Dhody describes the iron lung featured in the museum's new exhibit, Rarely Seen. This exhibit offers visitors a glimpse of objects that have  not been displayed for decades or are recent acquisitions that have never been exhibited. Some of the instruments represent the pinnacle of medical knowledge for their time, while others had mixed and sometimes detrimental medical results.

Many people remember when the threat of polio was omnipresent. Public pools and movie theaters were closed and parents lived in fear that their children could be struck down at any moment, unable to move or breathe. No one was safe: while the poliomyelitis virus affected mainly children, adults were also susceptible. The iron lung became one of the most iconic objects of the polio scourge, a symbol of the epidemics of the 1940s and 50s. More

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Welcome to History of Vaccines!

If you've been following our blog over the past few months, you'll notice that our look has changed. Our website,, is now in previews after several years of planning and about a year of development.

The site provides a historical and scientific context for the development of immunizations. It features not only holdings of the Historical Medical Library and Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, but also images, text, and video from a variety of public and private sources.

We invite you to explore the site -- the media-rich timelines on yellow fever, polio, smallpox, measles, diphtheria, and other diseases; the educational activities on how vaccines work, how vaccines are made, and how the scientific method is employed; the variety of articles on social and medical issues surrounding vaccination; and the gallery, which houses over 400 images and videos.

The History of Vaccines will officially launch on November 3, 2010, with an event here in Philadelphia: Stanley A. Plotkin, MD, developer of the rubella vaccine in current worldwide use, and emeritus professor of The Wistar Institute and The University of Pennsylvania, will give the Samuel X Radbill lecture entitled "Four Centuries of Vaccinology." Register HERE for the free event.

If you'd like to be notified about future History of Vaccines events and content releases, join our email list. More

Rarely Seen: Iron Lung

Collection of the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Here at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, our own Mütter Museum is preparing an exhibit entitled Rarely Seen: Hidden Collections of the Mütter Museum. Visitors will have the chance to see some rarely or never before seen items. Too large to display in the permanent museum galleries, these fascinating objects will briefly have a home in our temporary exhibit space.  Of particular interest to the History of Vaccines project is an iron lung manufactured by J.H. Emerson Co. as well as  a bacterial incubator used by Robert Austrian, MD, a pioneer researcher in pneumococcal disease and developer of the polysaccharide pneumococcal vaccine. This exhibit will be on display from October 2010 through January 2011.

Over the next few days we’ll post more pictures of the iron lung along with the tale of how it came to the Mütter Museum. More

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Robert Chanock, Renowned Virologist, Dies at 86

Photomicrographic detection of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) using indirect immunofluorescence technique. CDC/ Dr. H. Craig Before Robert Chanock, MD, joined the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in 1957, researchers had not identified a culprit for a constellation of serious respiratory illnesses that affected infants and children each year, particularly in the winter. Soon after Chanock joined NIAID’s Laboratory of Infectious diseases, however, he and his colleagues identified and named the virus: respiratory syncytial virus. RSV, as it is commonly known, is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia among American children less than one year of age.

When asked if he had any advice for parents worried about RSV, Chanock alluded to the virus’s tendency to spread during the winter and famously quipped (though he noted that there was some truth to the remark) that parents should have their babies in the spring. Through his research efforts, however, he and his colleagues provided a better form of protection against the virus: an antibody to protect against RSV in infants at high risk for RSV illnesses.

Throughout his career, a great deal of Chanock’s research was in the field of respiratory disease. He collaborated with other researchers to discover parainfluenza viruses that cause childhood respiratory illnesses, isolate strains of the virus that causes the common cold, and isolate one of the causes of bacterial pneumonia. More

Thomas Peebles, Doctor Who Isolated Measles Virus, Dies at 89

Thin-section transmission electron micrograph (TEM) shows the ultrastructural appearance of a single virus particle, or "virion, In 1954, Thomas C. Peebles, MD, was working in the laboratory of John F. Enders, PhD, at Boston Children’s Hospital. Earlier, Enders had contributed to work on tissue culture that helped in the development of vaccines for polio; now, he wanted Peebles to focus on the measles.

During an outbreak of the disease at a private school outside of Boston, Peebles set out to isolate the measles virus. After getting permission from the school’s principal, Peebles collected blood samples from each of the sick boys at the school, telling them: “Young man, you are standing on the frontiers of science.”

On February 8, Peebles succeeded, collecting measles virus-laden blood from 13-year-old David Edmonston. This virus would eventually be used to create measles vaccines, and, the measles component of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine used today is still grown using the Edmonston strain. More

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History of Vaccines Highlights on Facebook

What vaccine-preventable disease caused this young woman's facial disfigurement? This week The College of Physicians of Philadelphia is highlighting photographs from the History of Vaccines on its Facebook.

They’re posting a new picture and question daily. To learn the answer to each question, check back in at the end of the workday.

Today’s question and photograph (shown at left, from the historical photograph collection of the Mütter Museum) already have 27 responses.

Visit, comment, and LIKE at

Photograph property and copyright of the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. May not be reproduced with permission of the College. See for details. More