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Albert Sabin

Born August 26, 1906(1906-08-26)
Białystok, Russia
Died March 3, 1993 (aged 86)
Washington, D.C
Citizenship United States
Nationality Poland
Fields immunology
Alma mater New York University
Known for oral polio vaccine
Notable awards see article

Albert Bruce Sabin (August 26, 1906 – March 3, 1993) was an American medical researcher best known for having developed an oral polio vaccine.



Sabin was born in Białystok, Russia (now Poland), to Jewish parents, Jacob and Tillie Saperstein, in 1921 he immigrated with his family to America. In 1930 he became a naturalized citizen of the United States and changed his name to Sabin.

Sabin received a medical degree from New York University in 1931. He trained in internal medicine, pathology and surgery at Bellevue Hospital in New York City from 1931-1933. In 1934 he conducted research at The Lister Institute for Preventive Medicine in England, then joined the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research (now Rockefeller University). During this time he developed an intense interest in research, especially in the area of infectious diseases. In 1939 he moved to Cincinnati Children's Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. During World War II he was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Medical Corps and helped develop a vaccine against Japanese encephalitis. Maintaining his association with Children's Hospital, by 1946 he had also become the head of Pediatric Research at the University of Cincinnati. In 1969-1972 he lived and worked in Israel as the President of Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot. After his return to the United States he worked (1974–1982) as a Research Professor at the Medical University of South Carolina. He later moved to Washington, D.C. area where he was a Resident Scholar at the John E. Fogarty International Center on NIH campus in Bethesda, MD.

Polio Research

With the menace of polio growing, Sabin and other researchers, most notably Jonas Salk in Pittsburgh and Hilary Koprowski and Herald Cox in New York and Philadelphia, sought a vaccine to prevent or mitigate the illness. In 1955, Salk's "killed" vaccine was released for use. It was effective in preventing most of the complications of polio, but did not prevent the initial, intestinal infection. In addition, those who received the Salk vaccine could pass on the polio virus. Sabin first tested his live attenuated oral vaccine at the Chillicothe Ohio Reformatory in late 1954. From 1956-1960 he worked with Russian colleagues to perfect the oral vaccine and prove its extraordinary effectiveness and safety. The Sabin vaccine worked in the intestines to block the poliovirus from entering the bloodstream. It was in the intestines, Sabin had discovered, the poliovirus multiplied and attacked. Thus, the oral vaccine broke the chain of transmission of the virus and made possible the world wide eradication of polio.

Between 1955-1960, the oral vaccine was tested on at least 100 million people in the USSR, parts of Eastern Europe, Singapore, Mexico and the Netherlands. The first industrial production and mass use of Oral Poliovirus Vaccine (OPV) from Sabin strains was organized by Soviet scientist Mikhail Chumakov [1][2]. This provided the critical impetus for allowing large scale clinical trial of OPV in the United States in April 1960 on 180,000 Cincinnati school children. The mass immunization techniques that Sabin pioneered with his associates effectively eradicated polio in Cincinnati. Against considerable opposition from The March of Dimes Foundation, which supported the relatively effective killed vaccine, Sabin prevailed on the Public Health Service to license his three strains of vaccine. While the PHS stalled, the USSR sent millions of doses of the oral vaccine to places with polio epidemics, such as Japan, and reaped the humanitarian benefit. Indeed it was not clear to many that the vaccine was an American one, financed by US dollars, but not available to ordinary Americans.

Sabin vs. Salk vaccine controversy

Sabin vehemently opposed the use of the Salk inactivated vaccine and attempted to block its use.

In 1983, Sabin developed calcification of the cervical spine, which caused paralysis and intense pain.[3][4] According to Keith Olbermann, Sabin revealed in a television interview that the experience had made him decide to spend the rest of his life working on alleviating pain.[5] This condition was successfully treated by surgery conducted at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1992 when Sabin was 86.


See also


  1. ^ Sabin, A.B. Role of my cooperation with Soviet scientists in the elimination of polio: possible lessons for relations between the U.S.A. and the USSR. Perspect Biol Med. 1987 Autumn; 31(1):57-64.
  2. ^ Benison, S. International Medical Cooperation: Dr. Albert Sabin, Live Poliovirus Vaccine and the Soviets. Bulletin of the History of Medicine 56 (1982), 460-83.
  3. ^ Philip Boffey, Sabin, Paralyzed, Tells of Death Wish. In the New York Times, November 27, 1983.
  4. ^ Ezra Bowen, The Doctor Whose Vaccine Saved Millions from Polio Battles Back from a Near-Fatal Paralysis. In People, July 2, 1984.
  5. ^ Health Care; The Fight Against Death. Special comment by Keith Olbermann on Countdown, 2009-10-07.
  6. ^ USPS press release.
  • Saldías G, Ernesto (December 2006). "[Centennary of Albert B. Sabin MD birthdate]". Revista chilena de infectología : órgano oficial de la Sociedad Chilena de Infectología 23 (4): 368–9. doi:/S0716-10182006000400013 (inactive 2008-06-25). PMID 17186087. 
  • Smith, Derek R; Leggat Peter A (2005). "Pioneering figures in medicine: Albert Bruce Sabin--inventor of the oral polio vaccine". The Kurume medical journal 52 (3): 111–6. doi:10.2739/kurumemedj.52.111. PMID 16422178. 
  • Emed, A (April 2000). "[Albert B Sabin (1906-1993)]". Harefuah 138 (8): 702–3. PMID 10883218. 
  • Chanock, R M (March 1996). "Reminiscences of Albert Sabin and his successful strategy for the development of the live oral poliovirus vaccine". Proc. Assoc. Am. Physicians 108 (2): 117–26. PMID 8705731. 
  • Dalakas, M C (May 1995). "Opening remarks. On post-polio syndrome and in honor of Dr. Albert B. Sabin". Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 753: xi-xiv. PMID 7611615. 
  • Beumer, J (1994). "[Academic eulogy of Professor Albert Bruce Sabin, foreign honorary member]". Bull. Mem. Acad. R. Med. Belg. 149 (5-7): 220–4. PMID 7795544. 
  • Horaud, F (December 1993). "Albert B. Sabin and the development of oral poliovaccine". Biologicals 21 (4): 311–6. doi:10.1006/biol.1993.1089. PMID 8024745. 
  • Melnick, J L; Horaud F (December 1993). "Albert B. Sabin". Biologicals 21 (4): 297–303. doi:10.1006/biol.1993.1087. PMID 8024743. 
  • "Homage to Albert Sabin". Biologicals 21 (4): 295–384. December 1993. PMID 8024742. 
  • Newsom, B (June 1993). "In memoriam: Albert B. Sabin, M.D., 1906-1993". Journal of the South Carolina Medical Association (1975) 89 (6): 311. PMID 8320975. 
  • Grouse, L D (April 1993). "Albert Bruce Sabin". JAMA 269 (16): 2140. doi:10.1001/jama.269.16.2140. PMID 8468772. 
  • Koprowski, H (April 1993). "Albert B. Sabin (1906-1993)". Nature 362 (6420): 499. doi:10.1038/362499a0. PMID 8464487. 
  • Sabin, A B; Ramos-Alvarez M, Alvarez-Amezquita J, Pelon W, Michaels R H, Spigland I, Koch M A, Barnes J M, Rhim J S (June 1984). "Landmark article Aug 6, 1960: Live, orally given poliovirus vaccine. Effects of rapid mass immunization on population under conditions of massive enteric infection with other viruses. By Albert B. Sabin, Manuel Ramos-Alvarez, José Alvarez-Amezquita, William Pelon, Richard H. Michaels, Ilya Spigland, Meinrad A. Koch, Joan M. Barnes, and Johng S. Rhim". JAMA 251 (22): 2988–93. PMID 6371279. 
  • Benison, S (1982). "International medical cooperation: Dr. Albert Sabin, live poliovirus vaccine and the Soviets". Bulletin of the history of medicine 56 (4): 460–83. PMID 6760938. 
  • Dixon, B (December 1977). "Medicine and the media: polio still paralyses (Albert Sabin, Jonas Salk)". British journal of hospital medicine 18 (6): 595. PMID 342023. 
  • Draffin, R W (January 1977). "Citation for Dr. Albert B. Sabin of Charleston, S.C. on presentation of Honorary Fellowship 1976". The Journal of the American College of Dentists 44 (1): 28–30. PMID 320241. 

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