Symposium honors achievements of Fox Chase Cancer Center Nobel Laureate Baruch Blumberg


PHILADELPHIA (June 7, 2005) Fox Chase Cancer Center will honor the lifetime achievement of Nobel Laureate Baruch S. Blumberg, M.D., Ph.D., on the occasion of his 80th birthday with a special scientific symposium Thursday, June 16, 2005, at 2:00 p.m. in the Fox Chase Cancer Center Auditorium.

The symposium will examine Blumberg's Nobel Prize-winning research and celebrate his more recent work with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as the first director of the Astrobiology Institute. Speakers include Harvey J. Alter, M.D., chief of infectious diseases at the National Institutes of Health and Daniel S. Goldin, former administrator of NASA.

Blumberg, a Fox Chase Cancer Center Distinguished Scientist and senior advisor to the Center's president, won the 1976 Nobel Prize in medicine for his 1967 discovery of the hepatitis B virus. This led to the development of the first hepatitis B vaccine at Fox Chase.

Since FDA approval of the hepatitis B vaccine in 1981, a number of nations where hepatitis B is a major public health hazard-from Mediterranean countries to the People's Republic of China-have launched vaccination programs in consultation with Blumberg and his colleagues. Targeted to infants, these prevention programs may reduce the incidence of primary liver cancer caused by the virus by as much as 80 percent or more, as well as preventing millions of cases of acute and chronic hepatitis.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, July 28, 1925, Blumberg earned his B.S. in physics at Union College in Schenectady in 1946 and for a year did graduate work in mathematics at Columbia University. He received his M.D. from Columbia's College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1951. After a clinical fellowship at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, he went to England to earn his doctoral degree in biochemistry at Oxford University's Balliol College.

In 1957 he returned to the United States to join the National Institutes of Health. He headed its Geographic Medicine and Genetics Section until 1964, when he became associate director for clinical research at Fox Chase and a senior member of its scientific staff. From 1986 to 1989 he was Center vice president for population oncology.

He was named to his current role as the first Fox Chase Distinguished Scientist in February 1989. From October 1989 until 1994, Blumberg was also master of Balliol College. He held numerous other academic positions over the years, including University Professor of Medicine and Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania.

In 1999, he was appointed director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Astrobiology Institute, headquartered at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. In 2000, he became senior advisor to the administrator of NASA, headquartered in Washington, D.C.

In addition to his dedication as an advisor at Fox Chase, Blumberg currently serves as president of the American Philosophical Society. Symposium speakers include:

  • Harvey J. Alter, M.D., Chief, Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda Blumberg: The (Ab)Original Years
  • W. Thomas London, M.D., Senior Member, Fox Chase Cancer Center The Fox Chase Years--From Australia Antigen To Hepatitis B Virus
  • Raymond Dwek, D.Phil., FRS, Director of Oxford Glycobiology Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford, England The Oxford Connection
  • Daniel S. Goldin, President, Intellisis Corporation, Former NASA Administrator, San Diego, California In Search of the Origins of Life with Barry

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