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Behind every advance in vaccine research, there is a man or woman--often a group--whose contributions to the field are worthy of historical note. Without Edward Jenner, smallpox could not have been defeated. Without Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin, polio might still be spreading, unchallenged, throughout the world.

The discoveries that seem smaller, or were not publicly heralded in their time, are no less important. Thomas Peebles made trip to a private school outside of Boston to collect blood from measles patients in 1954; the strain of measles virus he isolated from a student named David Edmonston is still used in measles vaccines today. In 1961, a poultry farm employee named W.F. Lamoreux bonded with Maurice Hilleman over both being born in Montana. The descendants of the flock of specially bred chickens Lamoreux sold to Hilleman are still being used to create vaccines at Merck.

This timeline highlights the men and women behind centuries of history in the development of vaccines and the fight against disease.