The Albert B. Sabin Digitization Project: A Celebration of the Achievements of Dr. Sabin, Part II

By Richard Jason Sookoor, Sabin Student Assistant

Gold Medal awarded to Dr. Sabin by the Robert Koch Foundation

For the month of August, we will continue our series on the Awards and Honors Dr. Sabin received during his lifetime. This week we take a look at arguably Dr. Sabin most influential achievement: the live, oral polio vaccine. Or rather, we observe the accolades Dr. Sabin received for developing the vaccine. Despite the development of previous polio vaccines, Dr. Sabin’s vaccine was ultimately chosen for worldwide distribution after large scale clinical trials were performed. Not only did this help lead to the eradication of polio in the Western and developing world, but it also helped pave the way for the molding the public perception regarding the importance of vaccination. Continue reading

The Albert B. Sabin Digitization Project: A Celebration of the Achievements of Dr. Sabin

By Richard Jason Sookoor, Sabin Student Assistant

Brigadier General J. Johnson is seen here presenting the Legion of Merit to Dr. Sabin.

The month of August is notable here at the Winkler Center, particularly for the Hauck Center for the Albert B. Sabin Archives. August 26th happens to be Dr. Sabin’s birthday, which gives us good reason to celebrate. To commemorate his birthday, we’d like to present the awards and honors he’s received in a small blog series throughout the month of August. Dr. Sabin has accumulated well over one hundred different awards and while we’d like to acknowledge all of them, we will focus on his most outstanding achievements. Continue reading

The Albert B. Sabin Digitization Project: Example of Compassion and How It Influenced a Life

By Richard Jason Sookoor, Sabin Project Student Assistant

A letter written in 1992 to Dr. Sabin from Dr. Blackman regarding the incident roughly 30 years prior. Their correspondence over the next few months would last until Dr. Sabin's passing in 1993.

Successful people are often described as being driven, strong-willed, or zealous. Though to be definitively admirable, a person should also be compassionate, forgiving, and considerate. Dr. Albert Sabin managed to find a steady balance between these two domains, stern yet soft. In speaking with Dr. Kenneth Blackman, a former assistant to Dr. Sabin, we gain some insight on the level of professionalism and empathy shown by Dr. Sabin.

As the story goes, Dr. Blackman, then a young man with an opportunity to work in Dr. Sabin’s lab, was busy working on a project related to a potential human tumor virus. Dr. Blackman’s duties were to properly identify and collect concentrates in fluid from tissue culture infected with this particular virus. Despite the relatively cramped working space (Old Children’s Research Building R), Dr. Blackman was able to complete this rather standard collection with nary an incident for weeks. On a particular day though, a Friday, things took a heartbreaking turn for the worse. Dr. Blackman, completing the daily collection of concentrates from tissue culture, was steadily handling a bottle containing a few weeks’ worth of sample liquid. Bottle in hand, as he was turning towards away from the tissue culture station, the bottom of the bottle clipped the edge of the work bench causing the contents to fall out. Continue reading

The Albert B. Sabin Digitization Project: Dr. Sabin and His Travels

By: Richard Sookoor, Sabin Student Assistant

Travel Memorabilia from Europe, South America, and Japan

While perhaps never considering himself an adventurer, Dr. Sabin was surprisingly well traveled. Considering the span of his career, both military and academic, it might not seem unusual to visit quite so many different countries, though it is remarkable nonetheless.

Though he admits his adoration of living in the US, it seems the desire to travel was well within Dr. Sabin’s nature. Having traveled to at least 32 different countries* in his life, the opportunity to experience so many different cultures and lifestyles appears to have been well exploited. From cities as exotic as Dakar [1] and Bombay (at least in the 1960’s) to more contemporary locales like Stockholm and Paris, Dr. Sabin certainly realized the divergence of a (then) disconnected world. Continue reading

The Albert B. Sabin Digitization Project: "Do What I Preach and Not What I Practice"

First page of letter from Dr. Sabin to Dr. Feldman, March 1951.

One of my favorite letters that I have come across so far during this project is a 1951 letter from Dr. Sabin to his colleague Dr. Harry A. Feldman. In the letter, Dr. Sabin commented on a grant application Dr. Feldman sent to the National Institutes of Health. As usual, Dr. Sabin did not hold back his opinions on what could be done to improve the application. But in his letter, he also urged Dr. Feldman to write his material up for publication. He wrote:

[I]ndicate what it is you want to test, why, how many, where from, etc. If you don’t mind my saying so, Harry, the best way to achieve that is to outline one or more papers for publication and see what data you would like to have rounded out, get that data rounded out, and I will pray to God that ultimately you will write it up for publication. I can only say that I wish you would do what I preach and not what I practice myself. If you don’t write up the work you do over the years, it is work done for your own personal benefit and does not add to the sum total of scientific knowledge.[1] Continue reading

The 2012 Spring/Summer Issue of the Henry R. Winkler Center Newsletter is Now Available

The Winkler Center is a medical archive, library, and exhibit facility that encourages visitors and researchers to explore Cincinnati’s rich medical history. The Winkler Center newsletter is published semi-annually, and is available at the Winkler Center’s website.

Spring/Summer Issue

This issue takes a look at the Winkler Center’s Mussey Collection. Five thousand mostly pre-1860 medical books, journals, and pamphlets make up the Mussey Collection. Rueben Diamond Mussey, MD, LLD was a professor of surgery at the Medical College of Ohio in Cincinnati, the chair of surgery at Miami Medical College, and the founding president of the Cincinnati Academy of Medicine. The Mussey Collection was his personal medical library.  It is a rare example of a virtually intact early- to mid-19th century medical library.  For more information, visit the collection’s website.

In another article, “The Role of the History of Medicine in Today’s Medical School Curriculum,” Philip M. Diller, MD, PhD looks at how history is an important part of studying and practicing medicine. Dr. Diller is a Fred Lazarus, Jr. Endowed Professor and Chairman with the Department of Family and Community Medicine, and a member of the Winkler Center’s Advisory Board.

Also included are updates on the Albert B. Sabin archive digitization project and the processing of the Henry J. Heimlich archive.

The Winkler Center’s most recent benefactors are acknowledged.   For information about becoming a supporter, please contact Margaret W. Wolf, Director of Development, at (513)556-0055 or

Contact the Winkler Center at (513)558-5120 or if you would like to receive future newsletters.

The Albert B. Sabin Digitization Project: What Worried Him Most

Dr. Sabin's handwritten response to a question asked by Ivan Klebanow, 1960

[Sabin Archivist’s Note: This week features the first blog post from Richard Sookoor, the Sabin Project student assistant. Richard is pursuing his Bachelor of Science degree in neurobiology from the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences here at the University of Cincinnati. He will be blogging on different Sabin-related topics as we work on the project. Please give Richard a warm welcome to the blogging world by reading his posts! -SB]

A typical opinion when speaking of scientists is that they are mostly entrenched in their work, sometimes unmindful of the world around them. However, for many scientists, their view of the world influences their research and scientific endeavors. Dr. Sabin proves to be a good example. Having been deployed to numerous conflict areas by the US Army Medical Corps during World War II, Dr. Sabin was well aware of the impact and outcomes of great wars. His experiences in these areas led him to pursue research focusing on dengue fever [1], Japanese B encephalitis [2], and sandfly fever [3] even after the completion of his military duty. Continue reading

The Albert B. Sabin Digitization Project: Check Us Out!

Dr. Sabin is seen here administering oral poliovirus vaccine to two children.

The Albert B. Sabin digitization project appeared in a couple of articles this week! I wanted to give you a heads-up on the articles from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Midwest Archives Conference (MAC), just in case you wanted to check them out for yourself.

The National Endowment for the Humanities article is the second part of a three part series featuring preservation and access projects that highlight medicine and the humanities. Joel Wurl, Senior Program Officer in the Division of Preservation and Access, wrote of the projects, “[T]he history of medicine bridges almost every domain of the humanities, from the study of philosophy and ethics to the examination of everyday social and cultural history. Far from being a narrow subfield of study, it opens a pathway for exploring some of the most fundamental questions of human experience over time.” The Hauck Center for the Albert B. Sabin Archives definitely fits into this description of the history of medicine. Not only does the Sabin collection cover the well-known topics associated with him, such as virology and vaccine development, but due to his involvement and interest in so many different areas, the collection also includes materials on many other topics. These include science and the media, medical ethics, public health, politics and science, military medicine, tropical medicine, medical imperialism, and international and scientific cooperation.

Continue reading

The Albert B. Sabin Digitization Project: More on the AFEB

Portion of letter from John R. Paul to Albert B. Sabin, May 1969

As I continued to look through the administrative materials from the Armed Forces Epidemiological Board that are in the Sabin collection, I found a letter (seen to the right) from Dr. John R. Paul to Dr. Sabin that referred to the the appointment of an archivist for the Armed Forces Epidemiological Board to “immortalize some of the things (the data) which [they] have heretofore treasured only as unwritten memories.”[1] Naturally, as an archivist, I was intrigued by this appointment, especially because the members of the AFEB recognized that it was important to record their history for future generations. Continue reading