In the news: a vaccine pioneer

Fifty years ago this spring, five-year-old Jeryl Lynn Hilleman woke up with the mumps. Her father, a scientist at a pharmaceutical company, took a sample from the back of her throat that eventually led to the development of a vaccine that makes mumps a disease of the past among the immunized. In The New York Times this week, Richard Conniff remembers Maurice R. Hilleman, who during a long career devised or improved some 25 vaccines and thus, other researchers say, saved more lives than any other scientist of the 20th century.

A health worker prepares for vaccination using the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine. Photo: PATH.

A health worker prepares for vaccination using the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine. Photo: PATH.

At a defining moment in the fight to end malaria

Huffington Post, May 3, 2013

Last week, as the world commemorated the sixth annual World Malaria Day, I was struck by the tremendous progress we have made against this disease—progress that, at the outset, many would have thought impossible. Malaria mortality rates in Africa have decreased by one-third, and more than one million lives have been saved over the last decade. Amazingly, we are now in a place few of us could have imagined: eliminating malaria in Africa is a real possibility.

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Measuring to improve vs. improving measurement

Stanford Social Innovation Review, May 7, 2013

Measurement was once again a hot topic at this year’s Skoll Forum; with seven measurement-related sessions over three days, it eclipsed other perennially popular topics like funding and innovation. And yet there was a marked difference in the discourse this year, with many speakers and attendees questioning whether social-sector organizations are thinking too narrowly about the whole paradigm of measurement. Put another way, there seemed a real tension between whether the greatest bang for the buck in measurement will come from organizations measuring for their own improvement, or from the social sector improving on the measurement tools and techniques available to organizations in the first place.

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A forgotten pioneer of vaccines

The New York Times, May 6, 2013

The name Maurice Hilleman may not ring a bell. But today 95 percent of American children receive the MMR—the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella that Dr. Hilleman invented, starting with the mumps strain he collected…from his daughter. It was by no means his only contribution. At Dr. Hilleman’s death in 2005, other researchers credited him with having saved more lives than any other scientist in the 20th century. Over his career, he devised or substantially improved more than 25 vaccines, including 9 of the 14 now routinely recommended for children.

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Posted in Malaria, Vaccines and immunization | Permalink

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