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.