Hilleman, Maurice

Maurice R. Hilleman

Merck Sharp & Dohme Research Laboratories

For discovering the causes of certain viral diseases and for pioneering breakthroughs in vaccine, especially hepatitis B vaccine development throughout the world.

Maurice R. Hilleman has created effective vaccines which have saved millions of people from illness and death from viral, rickettsial, and bacterial infections.

Dr. Hilleman’s career in science has been dedicated to putting the power of basic science at the service of preventive medicine, consistently linking the laboratory, the clinic and the scientific resources of the pharmaceutical community.

Dr. Hilleman and his team developed the first live vaccines against measles, mumps, and rubella, and then produced the combined measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) live virus vaccine now used routinely, worldwide, to immunize children with a single injection. He prepared the first purified poliomyelitis vaccine and the first vaccines against chicken pox, bacterial pneumonias, and meningitis.

Dr. Hilleman also participated in the discovery of many viruses, including the adenoviruses that cause severe respiratory infections, the rhinoviruses which cause the common cold, and the oncogenic SV40 virus. He performed the first substantial purification and definition of interferon, and discovered that it is induced by double-stranded RNA.

His crowning achievement has been the vaccine against the hepatitis B virus. Because hepatitis B plays an important role in cancer of the liver, the hepatitis B vaccine developed by Dr. Hilleman holds hope that it may be the first anti liver-cancer vaccine.

To Dr. Hilleman, for discovering the causes of certain viral disease, and for pioneering breakthroughs in vaccine development for the benefit of mankind, this 1983 Albert Lasker Public Service Award is given.