Baruch Blumberg dies

The virologist identified the hepatitis B virus and saved millions of lives by helping to develop the vaccine against it

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob Grant is Editor in Chief of The Scientist, where he started in 2007 as a Staff Writer.

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Baruch "Barry" Blumberg, a multifaceted researcher who shared the 1976 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology for his work on infectious viral diseases, died on Tuesday (April 5) of an apparent heart attack while attending a conference on astrobiology in California. He was 85 years old.
Blumberg celebrating the news of
his Nobel Prize in 1976 with his wife Jean.

Image: Courtesy of the Fox Chase Cancer Center
Blumberg identified the hepatitis B virus (HBV) in the 1960s -- long before the advent of genomic sequencing and DNA sequencing technology -- travelling for years to collect blood samples from different ethnic groups around the globe. His journeys led him to Australia where, in the blood of an aborigine, he found what he'd later identify as the surface antigen of the virus. Blumberg would go on to help develop diagnostic tests and a vaccine that would drastically reduce the spread of...

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