1. Baruch S. Blumberg Honored for His Lifetime Work in Science and Medicine

    Presenters, in the program hosted by the American Philosophical Society, honored Barry Blumberg's scientific research approach and the handwritten journals detailing his discovery of the Australian antigen, a biomarker for hepatitis B. Image source: APS. Image credit: None
    Presenters, in the program hosted by the American Philosophical Society, honored Barry Blumberg's scientific research approach and the handwritten journals detailing his discovery of the Australian antigen, a biomarker for hepatitis B. Image source: APS.

    Source: American Philosophical Society

    On December 10, 2015, the family of the late Baruch (Barry) S. Blumberg officially bequeathed his handwritten journals to the American Philosophical Society. Dr. Blumberg, a former President of the Society and discoverer of the Australia antigen, a biomarker for hepatitis B, received the 1976 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on the hepatitis B virus while an investigator at the National Institutes of Health.

    The journals cover a 67-year time frame and offer a unique window into both the discovery of the Australia antigen and Dr. Blumberg’s continuing research until his death in 2011. They complement the existing Blumberg and Hilleman archives at the APS Library, which is a major research repository housing unrivaled collections in early American history; Native American ethnography and linguistics; and the history of science, medicine, and technology.

    The presentation of the journals followed a commemorative program honoring Dr. Blumberg which featured Dr. Tony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. The program’s moderator was Mark Thompson, President and CEO of the New York Times Company and Barry Blumberg’s son-in-law who shared his own personal reminiscences.

    In his talk, Dr. Fauci made much of Blumberg’s scientific approach which demonstrated an open mindedness and a belief in his data that is fully evident in the story behind the discovery of hepatitis B. As Fauci stated, “He wasn’t looking for hepatitis when he discovered the Australia antigen. Hepatitis wasn’t even on his radar. He was looking for something else.” The lesson provided for current and future scientists, according to Fauci, is “Don’t have a closed mind. Don’t presume you know what the explanation is. Leave completely open the possibility of the explanation.”

    To view the recorded program, visit the APS website.

    Source: [American Philosophical Society]