Albert Sabin, MD, Among 2012 Class of Great Ohioans

Dr. Albert B. Sabin was one of six honorees named a 2012 "Great Ohioan."

This press release originally appeared on the UC Health News website on Thursday, April 19, 2012.

By: Richard Puff

CINCINNATI—Albert Sabin, MD, former distinguished service professor of pediatrics at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine and researcher at Children’s Hospital (today known as Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center), was named as a Great Ohioan for his pioneering work in developing the oral, live polio vaccine that helped eliminate polio from most countries.

Sabin is one of six honorees named today by the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board and Capitol Square Foundation in Columbus. Honorees and their achievements are featured in a permanent exhibit in the Ohio Statehouse Museum. The other recipients this year are Gordon Battelle, philanthropist and researcher; Dominic Salvatore Gentile, World War II fighter pilot; Washington Gladden, clergyman and social reformer; Albert Belmont Graham, founder of the 4-H program; and Gen. William T. Sherman.

Between 1953 and 1960, Sabin worked in his Cincinnati laboratories developing the polio vaccine. His live virus vaccine could be given by mouth via a spoon or on a sugar cube and was believed to give a stronger immunity than the injected killed-virus vaccine, developed previously by Jonas Salk, MD. The stronger immunity and the ease of administering the oral vaccine, made Sabin’s vaccine far superior.

“Few people have had as significant a worldwide impact as Dr. Sabin,” Thomas Boat, MD, dean of the UC College of Medicine, wrote in his letter nominating Sabin for the Great Ohioan recognition. “The fact that younger generations in the United States and many areas of the world are unaware of polio and its devastating effects is the greatest testament to his success and impact.”

Tests in 1959 with more than 10 million Russian children and the administration of the vaccine to more than 180,000 children in Greater Cincinnati in 1960 – which many people remember as “Sabin Sundays” – helped prove the success of Sabin’s vaccine. The Sabin oral vaccine was ultimately selected for worldwide distribution.

Sabin, who died in 1993, and this year’s class join just 24 other Ohioans to have received this honor.

Note: You can also read more about the 2012 Great Ohioan Award in the original Ohio Statehouse press release.