Baruch Samuel Blumberg

American physician, geneticist and Nobel prize winner (1925–2011)

Baruch Samuel Blumberg (July 28, 1925 – April 5, 2011) was an American physician, virologist, geneticist, and co-recipient of the 1976 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Baruch Samuel Blumberg in 1999


  • Viral hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by at least six different, mostly unrelated, viruses [hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D, E, and G (HAV, HBV, HCV, HDV, HEV, and HGV, respectively)]. It can occur in an acute form from which most patients experience a complete recovery. Acute viral hepatitis is characterized by an insidious onset, often with fever and severe malaise and loss of appetite for food, alcohol, and tobacco. Flu-like symptoms may occur early in the illness. The characteristic finding that occurs in many cases is the development of jaundice, a dramatic yellow discoloration of the skin and other surfaces. Symptoms may last for days or weeks. The acute disease usually results in complete recovery with lifelong immunity. Occasionally, acute hepatitis may advance to the fulminant phase; the patient does not recover, but develops liver failure and death may be rapid. Fortunately, this is rare. Hepatitis due to HAV and HEV is nearly always acute. Acute disease also may occur with HBV and probably HGV. HCV is usually chronic.
    • (1997). "Hepatitis B virus, the vaccine, and the control of primary cancer of the liver". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 94 (14): 7121–7125. DOI:10.1073/pnas.94.14.7121.
  • Primary cancer of the liver (hepatocellular carcinoma, HCC) is one of the most common cancers worldwide; HBV is the major cause of HCC. A vaccine that protects against HBV infection was invented in 1969 and is now one of the most commonly used vaccines. National vaccination programs have dramatically reduced the prevalence of HBV infection and carriers, with a concomitant decrease in the incidence of HCC in the vaccine-impacted populations. HBV vaccine is the first widely used cancer prevention vaccine; a second that protects against papilloma virus and cancer of the cervix has recently been introduced.

Quotes about Blumberg

  • In his early years as a physician, Baruch Blumberg developed a keen interest in the genetic polymorphisms and environmental factors that influence disease development. In particular, he was interested in the lipoprotein subtypes that predispose certain individuals to heart disease. As a scientific researcher, Blumberg, while studying these protein fractions, encountered an unusual protein in the serum of Australian aborigine patients with serum hepatitis.
  • In 1982 Barry visited Taiwan, where the director of the blood bank at a major hospital in Taipei showed him large refrigerators full of blood from people infected with hepatitis B. What should they do with all these contaminated bottles of blood, the director asked? Barry’s answer: they should make hepatitis B vaccine. The Taiwanese hospital adopted his recommendation, which led by 1984 to Taiwan establishing the world’s first program of universal hepatitis B vaccination.
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