The Albert B. Sabin Digitization Project: March 3, 1993

Page from the booklet called, "A Tribute to Albert B. Sabin." This is a copy of a certificate signed by former President Bill Clinton.

The nineteenth anniversary of Dr. Albert B. Sabin’s passing has recently occurred. In memory of Dr. Sabin, I thought I would take a look at some materials that were published shortly after he passed away on March 3, 1993. An introduction to the 1993 issue of Biologicals paying homage to Dr. Sabin said, “The contributions of Albert B. Sabin to modern virology and to public health remain so huge and his personality was so rich and unusual, that it is difficult to pay proper homage in a short article.”[1] This quote is still very true today, but hopefully these materials can share some insight into how friends and colleagues felt at the time. Continue reading The Albert B. Sabin Digitization Project: March 3, 1993

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The Albert B. Sabin Digitization Project: "Useful to Mankind"

April 24, 1957 - This letter from Dr. Sabin endorsed Dr. Dulbecco for the John Scott Award.

I read a recent New York Times obituary of Dr. Renato Dulbecco, a Nobel Prize winning virologist. In 1975, he and his colleagues received the award “for their discoveries concerning the interaction between tumour viruses and the genetic material of the cell.”[1] Although most knew him from his cancer research, Dr. Dulbecco’s earlier research was an important piece of Dr. Sabin’s oral polio vaccine puzzle. The work that they completed together was mentioned in a previous blog post called “A Polio Research Collaboration.” Continue reading The Albert B. Sabin Digitization Project: "Useful to Mankind"

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The Albert B. Sabin Digitization Project: New Display in the Winkler Center

By Megan Ryan, Sabin Project Student Assistant

The Sabin family is seen here with the street sign that is currently on display in the Winkler Center. (This photograph originally appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer on 29 April 2000.)

The newest display case in the Henry R. Winkler Center for the History of the Health Professions features a small portion of the multitude of accolades deservedly presented to Dr. Albert B. Sabin. The display is titled “Highlights of Dr. Albert B. Sabin’s Awards and Honors,” and it features plaques spanning the years of 1960-1987. Dr. Sabin is highlighted as the recipient of the honors from the American Jewish Literary Foundation, Associacão Médica de Santos, the Pan American Medical Society, the Ohio Senior Citizens Group, Associacão “A Hebraica” de São Paulo, the American Legion, and the Tokyo Society of Medical Sciences and Faculty of Medicine, to name a few. Continue reading The Albert B. Sabin Digitization Project: New Display in the Winkler Center

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The Albert B. Sabin Digitization Project: An Influential Man

This is the first page of the 1982 letter from Dr. Sabin to Dr. Kew, which Dr. Racaniello refers to in his article.

Recently I received a Google alert for an article that mentioned Dr. Sabin. The article was about a live debate on H5N1 viruses sponsored by the New York Academy of Sciences, and it briefly discussed Dr. Vincent Racaniello’s opinion on using ferrets as “models of flu effects in humans.” According to the article, “when [Dr. Racaniello] began studying viral pathogenesis under Albert Sabin and other eminent experts, ‘The first thing they said was when you study viruses in animals, don’t think you’ll learn much about what happens in humans.’”

Since Dr. Racaniello specifically mentioned Dr. Sabin, I thought I would do a little bit of research on their connection. This led me to a 1993 article by Dr. Racaniello that appeared in an issue of Biologicals dedicated to Dr. Sabin. I found Dr. Racaniello’s discussion of how Dr. Sabin influenced his research quite interesting, so I thought I would share some of the materials that he refers to in the article. Continue reading The Albert B. Sabin Digitization Project: An Influential Man

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The Albert B. Sabin Digitization Project: India is One Year Polio-Free

Photograph from Dr. Sabin's trip to Bombay in 1963 as a WHO Consultant.

I recently read an article on the BBC News website, which stated that India had not reported case of polio in the country for a whole year, from January 13, 2011 to January 12, 2012. According to the World Health Organization, India was once considered “the world’s epicenter of polio.” Just a couple years ago, there were 741 reported cases in the country. The fight against polio in India has made significant strides in just a couple of years. The use of the oral polio vaccine, originally developed by Dr. Sabin, has helped India become polio-free for the first time.

The Hauck Center for the Albert B. Sabin Archives contains a good amount of materials related to the fight against polio in India. The collection includes correspondence between scientists working on polio research and the oral polio vaccine, documents written by Dr. Sabin and others on the status of polio in India, and photographs from his travel there. The photograph seen above is from his trip to India and Ceylon in 1963. Continue reading The Albert B. Sabin Digitization Project: India is One Year Polio-Free

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The Albert B. Sabin Digitization Project: Milk Research Makes Headline News!

In May 1950, at the sixtieth annual meeting of the American Pediatric Society, Dr. Sabin reported that he had discovered an “Antipoliomyelitic Substance in Milk of Human Beings and Certain Cows.”[1] Although Dr. Sabin was cautious to say that research was still needed to determine what the substance was and how it could be useful, the popular press picked up on the report with headlines such as:

“Mother’s Milk Has Anti-Polio Substance,” Science Service, 16 May 1950

“Researcher Seeking Factor in Milk to Prevent Paralysis in Polio Cases,” Cincinnati Times-Star, 19 May 1950

“Anti-Polio Human Milk,” Science News Letter, 27 May 1950

Telegram from Mr. Vinciguerra to Dr. Sabin, 1950

This information even appeared in the May 29, 1950 issue of Time magazine. Due to the the large amount of publicity that this report received, Dr. Sabin accumulated letters from researchers and other interested parties. The information contained in these letters ranged from encouragement to suggestions for further research. For example, Dr. Sabin received several letters suggesting that he test goat’s milk for the same substance. Others provided suggestions as to what the mystery substance might be. Another example appears in the telegram seen to the left, in which Mr. Vinciguerra suggests testing sheep’s milk.[2] Continue reading The Albert B. Sabin Digitization Project: Milk Research Makes Headline News!

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The Albert B. Sabin Digitization Project: Prisoner Volunteer Based Research – The New Jersey State Prison Experiment

Copy of certificate given to experiment volunteers, August 31, 1944.

By Megan Ryan, Sabin Project Student Assistant

In the post-World War II years, the experimental side of Dr. Sabin’s work relied upon prisoner research for development. The role of prisoner volunteer-based research was extremely relevant in the development of modern medicine in the late-1940’s and early-1950’s in the United States. Notably occurring right in the midst of this trend was Dr. Sabin’s New Jersey State Prison experiment in the 1940’s on sandfly and dengue fever. Continue reading The Albert B. Sabin Digitization Project: Prisoner Volunteer Based Research – The New Jersey State Prison Experiment

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The Albert B. Sabin Digitization Project: Happy (Belated) Anniversary, March of Dimes!

Invitation to Dr. Sabin's Bela Schick Lecture, 1944. This can be found in Series 3 – Manuscripts, Box 6, Folder 2 – Correspondence, photos, draft, 1944.

On Tuesday, January 3rd, I read a tweet from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which said:

“On this day in 1938 @marchofdimes was founded by #FDR to combat #polio!”

In honor of the anniversary of the founding of the March of Dimes, here are a couple more things in the Sabin collection that highlight some of Dr. Sabin’s research he conducted with aid from the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (NFIP). (You may recall from an earlier blog post that the NFIP later changed its name to the March of Dimes.)

In May 1944, Dr. Sabin gave the Bela Schick lecture called, “Studies on the Natural History of Poliomyelitis” at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. (For your information, Dr. Bela Schick was the developer of the Schick immunity test, which helped to determine if someone was susceptible to diphtheria. In 1923, he became director of the Department of Pediatrics at Mount Sinai Hospital.*) This lectureship was established by Dr. Schick’s friends and colleagues after his retirement, and Dr. Sabin was invited to give the 2nd annual lecture. Dr. Sabin was contacted by Dr. Murray Bass to give a report on “virus studies, especially in connection with poliomyelitis.”[1] Of course, Dr. Sabin accepted, after he made sure that he would be in the country at the time. When contacted about a dinner prior to the lecture, he suggested that NFIP notables Mr. Basil O’Connor (President) and Dr. Don W. Gudakunst (Medical Director) be invited as well.[2] Continue reading The Albert B. Sabin Digitization Project: Happy (Belated) Anniversary, March of Dimes!

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The Albert B. Sabin Digitization Project: What Do "Restricted" and "Confidential" Mean?

Letter from Colonel Stanhope Bayne-Jones to Dr. Sabin

In August 2011, I attended the Society of American Archivists annual meeting in Chicago, Illinois. While there, I attended a session called “Exploring the Evolution of Access: Classified, Privacy, and Proprietary Restrictions.” As I sat in the room listening to the speakers, I started to think how to apply these concepts to the Sabin digitization project.

For several weeks after the meeting, my colleagues and I had lively debates about how these concepts, as well as the recent SAA endorsed “Well-intentioned Practice for Putting Digitized Collections of Unpublished Materials Online” document, would affect the display of the Sabin materials online. On one hand, we recognize that Mrs. Sabin left Dr. Sabin’s important collection in our hands to ensure that this material is accessible to researchers around the world. On the other hand, we also recognized the need to do two things: 1.) protect the health information of those mentioned in the collection that participated in Dr. Sabin’s research, and 2.) make sure we don’t leak any classified government information online. Even though much of Dr. Sabin’s materials related to his research and his work with the military are considered “old” by some standards, it is still necessary to do our due diligence to protect information as needed. Continue reading The Albert B. Sabin Digitization Project: What Do "Restricted" and "Confidential" Mean?

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