The Life and Legacy of Louis Pasteur

One of the most notable figures in the development of vaccines is Louis Pasteur. Pasteur was born on December 27, 1822 in Dole, France. During his life, Pasteur excelled as a chemist, a biologist, and a microbiologist and is remembered for his discovery of pasteurization, his efforts toward the understanding of microbial fermentation, and his initial administration of the rabies vaccine. In his early years, Pasteur was only considered an average student, and his main interests included drawing and painting. He earned both a bachelor of arts degree and a bachelor of sciences degree from the Royal College of Besançon. He also earned a doctorate degree in 1847 from the École Normale in Paris. Following several years of teaching and researching, Pasteur became a professor of chemistry at the University of Strasbourg. It was here that he met his wife, Marie Laurent, who he went on to have five children with.

Pasteur’s first major contribution to the field of chemistry concerned his study of tartaric acid. Based on the way that light was rotated as it passed through a solution of dissolved tartaric acid, Pasteur was able to propose what is now accepted as the concept of molecular chirality, as well as make the first true explanation of isomerism. Later on in 1854, Pasteur was appointed professor of chemistry and dean of the science faculty at the University of Lille. It was here that he worked on addressing the common problems with the manufacture of alcoholic drinks. Using the germ theory which had already been established, Pasteur was able to expand pre-existing concepts in order to demonstrate that organisms like bacteria were responsible for souring beer, wine, and milk. He was responsible for establishing a process by which bacteria could be removed by first boiling and then cooling the liquid. This first test was completed on April 20, 1862, and the process today is known as pasteurization. Moving onto vaccines, Pasteur made his first major discovery in this field in 1879, with a disease known as chicken cholera. In this experiment, chickens were inoculated with an attenuated culture of chicken cholera germs. The chickens survived and when Pasteur inoculated them with a virulent strain, they demonstrated immunity to the disease. Beyond this, Pasteur extended the germ theory in order to develop causes and vaccinations for several other diseases like anthrax, cholera, smallpox, and tuberculosis.

Following his success with previous vaccinations and his acceptance into the Académie Française in 1882, Pasteur began to focus his efforts on the issue of rabies. On July 6, 1885, Pasteur vaccinated Joseph Meister, a 9-year-old boy who had been bitten by a rabid dog and who would have otherwise been doomed to a near-unavoidable death. The vaccine ended up saving Meister’s life and Pasteur was hailed as a hero. It was this event that sparked interest among the public to begin a fundraising campaign in order to construct the Pasteur Institute. Fundraising began in 1887 with several countries donating to the cause. The institute was inaugurated on November 14, 1888 and served as a center of scientific research and development. After 1891, the Pasteur Institute began to extend to several more countries, and there are currently 32 institutes spanning 29 countries. Besides the many individuals saved by his research on vaccines, Pasteur’s contributions continue to benefit both the medical and pharmaceutical fields as a whole.


Stern, M. A., & Markel, H. (2005). The History of Vaccines and Immunization: Familiar Patterns, New Challenges. Health Affairs, 24(3), 611-621.

Ulmann, A. (2017). Louis Pasteur: French Chemist and Microbiologist. In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved from

Historical Perspectives: Father of Vaccine Development

Contributed by Hassan Aboutaam, Class of 2019

Many people are very grateful for the work of Maurice Hilleman, who can be credited with helping many lives. “Dr. Hilleman probably saved more lives than any other scientist in the 20th century, said two medical leaders, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Dr. Paul A. Offit, chief of infectious diseases at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia (Lawrence K. Altman 2005)”. He helped develop around 40 vaccines, 8 of which are recommended, including those for chicken pox, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, measles, meningitis, mumps, and rubella.

Dr. Hilleman was the youngest of eight children and grew up on a farm in Miles City, Montana.  Working with chickens as a young boy really contributed to his success, since the 1930s fertile chicken eggs have often been used to grow viruses for vaccines. With the help of family and scholarships, he graduated with a doctoral degree in microbiology in 1944 and wrote his doctoral thesis on chlamydia infections, where he showed that these infections were caused by a bacterium called chlamydia trachomatis.


Dr. Hilleman’s first accomplishment happened after joining E.R Squibb & Sons, where he led the development of a vaccine against Japanese B encephalitis, which treated troops in the Pacific area after World War 2. Dr. Hilleman was also the chief of Respiratory Diseases at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research from 1948-1957. During that time, he invented the term shift and drift, which occurs when the influenza virus mutates. This discovery helped create forty million doses of vaccines during the 1957 outbreak of influenza in Hong King which saved many lives.

In 1957, Hilleman joined Merck & Co. in the virus and cell biology research department. He developed forty experimental and licensed animal and human vaccines. In 1963, he made the mumps vaccine by cultivating material from his daughter Jeryl Lynn, who was sick with the mumps. Today, the Jerly Lynn strain is still used, as well as the MMR vaccine, which he also discovered. Furthermore, by treating blood serum with pepsin, urea, and formaldehyde, Hilleman and his group invented a vaccine for hepatitis B. However, it was replaced by a vaccine that was produced in yeast, which is still used today. The disease is believed to have decreased by 95% in the United States. Dr. Hilleman had a major goal of developing a vaccine against any viral cancer. In the 1970’s, he revolutionized the poultry industry by developing a vaccine to prevent Marek’s disease, which was a lymphoma cancer of chickens.  He continued on to become an advisor to the world health organization. After his retirement in 1984, he directed the Merck Institute of Vaccinolgy for 20 years before he died on April 11, 2005.

 Works Cited

“Lawrence K. Altman, Maurice Hilleman, Master in Creating Vaccines, Dies at 85, The New York Times, n.p., April 12, 2015”

 “Hilleman, Maurice Ralph.” Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2006. (2006). Hilleman, Maurice Ralph. Retrieved September 26, 2016, from











Fighting TB: The Baccillus Calmette-Guerin Vaccine

Contributed by Leila Fleming, Class of 2019

calmetteguerinTwo French born scientists, Albert Calmette and Camille Guerin, developed the Bacillus Calmette-Guerin vaccine.  It is often referred to as the BCG vaccine, an immunization against tuberculosis (TB).  Albert Calmette was born in Paris in 1933 and was a pupil of Louis Pasteur.  He is also credited with developing a diagnostic test for tuberculosis.  His co-developer, Camille Guerin actually studied to be a veterinarian.  Guerin’s father died of tuberculosis in 1882 as well as his wife in 1918.  This loss presumably motivated Guerin in his work toward a vaccine.

The two found that successive cultures of the bacteria weakened it enough that it could produce an immune response but not illness.  Their research began in 1905 but was interrupted by the upheaval of the First World War.  The vaccine was first used in humans in 1921.

By the late 1920’s the vaccine had reached numerous countries.  The BCG vaccine has been a source of some controversy.  In 1930, over two hundred infants were given a contaminated batch of the vaccine.  Seventy-two children developed TB and died.  Criminal charges were filed and two employees of the lab that manufactured this batch were sent to prison for their negligence.  While the vaccine was not to blame, this did cause a blemish on its reputation.

Today, the vaccine is widely used in children as part of the World Health Organization (WHO) immunization program. The BCG is not recommended for Americans but it still in use in many countries with higher risk of contracting the infection. Tuberculosis is prevalent in South-East Asia, the Western Pacific and Africa.  The BCG remains the only available vaccine against TB.



“Albert Calmette | French Bacteriologist”. Encyclopedia Britannica. N.p., 2016. Web. 25 Sept. 2016.

“BCG Vaccine | Current Use & Safety”. TB N.p., 2016. Web. 25 Sept. 2016.

“BCG Vaccine | Medicine”. Encyclopedia Britannica. N.p., 2016. Web. 25 Sept. 2016.


“Camille Guerin | French Biologist”. Encyclopedia Britannica. N.p., 2016. Web. 25 Sept. 2016.

“Camille Guérin”. Wikipedia. N.p., 2016. Web. 25 Sept. 2016.

“History Of The BCG Vaccine | Calmette, Guerin, Lubeck”. TB N.p., 2016. Web. 25 Sept. 2016.

“Timeline”. Tuberculosis: <br />Finding a Cure. N.p., 2016. Web. 26 Sept. 2016. (photo)

“Tuberculosis (TB)”. World Health Organization. N.p., 2016. Web. 25 Sept. 2016.



American Pharmacist Month Blog Series: Edward Jenner & The Cure for Smallpox

Contributed by: Jasiris Boccheciamp, Class of 2019, Fall 2016 History of Pharmacy

Edward Jenner is a prominent figure not only in pharmacy, but also in immunology and medicine. He was born on May 17, 1749 in Berkeley, Gloucestershire, England. His interest in science and nature started when he was a young boy. His journey in developing a vaccine for smallpox started once he began his career as an apprentice to a country surgeon. He became the apprentice of George Harwicke at the young age of 13, and this lasted until the age of 21. It was during this apprenticeship he noticed dairymaids did not contract smallpox, because they have been exposed to cowpox. Although it was a common belief at this time that there was a connection between smallpox and cowpox, Jenner became curious and wanted to discover why the dairymaids were protected from smallpox.


Edward Jenner (1749–1823). Photo courtesy of the National Library of Medicine.

After the completion of this apprenticeship, he went further in his studies in medicine and became a student of John Hunter, a famous surgeon, biologist, anatomist, and experimental scientist. He was under his teaching for two years and learned a lot about clinical surgery and pharmacy compounding by creating an improved method to prepare tar emetic (potassium antimony tartrate).

In 1796, he made his first stride towards eradicating smallpox. While thinking about his earlier encounters with dairymaids and their protection from this disease by being exposed to cowpox first, he came to the conclusion that in addition to cowpox being protective against smallpox, it could also be transmitted from person to person and be protective to them. In May of 1796, Jenner came across Sarah Nelms, a dairymaid, who had lesions on her hands and arms due to the cowpox virus. He was able to inoculate the virus and infect an 8-year-old boy by the name of James Phipps. Phipps suffered through a mild fever and discomfort around his armpit. His symptoms changed in a few days, and by Day 9, he felt cold and had decreased appetite. However, this didn’t last very long, and by Day 10, he felt better. Jenner inoculated Phipps with the smallpox virus 2 months later, and no disease developed. This was the first major step in eradicating the virus because he had supporting evidence that the cowpox virus did indeed provide protection against smallpox.

With his first official experiment under his belt, he decided to spread the news of this discovery with others by writing a short paper to the Royal Society with details of his experiment in 1797. The paper was rejected, but Jenner believed he was on the verge of something great, so he continued his experiments. In 1798, he privately published a small booklet on his findings. He then took one step further in his research by going to London and looking for volunteers to vaccinate. In 1799, Jenner was able to distribute the vaccine through the help of Drs. George Pearson and William Woodville by distributing this vaccine to their patients. He conducted a survey that confirmed his initial theory. The vaccine later spread to other European cities until reaching the United States.

Edward Jenner was a remarkable figure who was driven by his curiosity and determination. His background in medicine was a stepping stone in the development of a vaccine against a viral disease that is now eradicated. He performed the world’s first vaccination, and this paved the way for the development of all of the vaccines that are available today and are available to be administered by pharmacists. Edward Jenner was a trendsetter in his own right, and his contribution to the world of medicine and pharmacy is immeasurable.

Works Cited:

Riedel, S. (2005). Edward Jenner and the history of smallpox and vaccination. Proceedings (Baylor University. Medical Center), 18(1), 21–25.