Blumberg, Baruch Samuel

views updated May 17 2018


BLUMBERG, BARUCH SAMUEL (1925– ), U.S. physician and Nobel laureate. Blumberg was born in New York City and received his elementary schooling at the Flatbush Yeshiva. After high school he joined the U.S. Navy in 1943 and finished college (B.Sc. in physics from Union College) while enlisted. He received his M.D. from Columbia University in 1951. From 1951 to 1953 he was an intern and resident at Bellevue Hospital in New York City; the next two years were spent as a clinical fellow in medicine at the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center's Arthritis Division. From 1955 to 1957 he was a graduate student at the Department of Biochemistry at Oxford University, England, and a member of Balliol College, where he received his Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1957. That year he joined the National Institutes of Health, where he remained until 1964, when he joined the Fox Chase Cancer Center, serving as assistant director of Clinical Research. At the same time he was appointed professor of medicine and anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, where, in 1970, he was appointed professor of medicine and medical genetics. In 1989 he became master of Balliol College at Oxford while maintaining a position at Fox Chase Cancer Center. He stayed at Oxford until 1994. From 1999 until 2002 he was director of the nasa Astrobiology Institute at Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California. In 2000–01 he was senior advisor to the administrator of NASA in Washington, d.c.

Blumberg was awarded the 1976 Nobel Prize in medicine and physiology for "discoveries concerning new mechanisms for the origin and dissemination of infectious diseases." The award was based mainly on Blumberg's 1963 discovery of an antigen that detected the presence of hepatitis B and his subsequent research, with microbiologist Irving Millman, which led to a test for hepatitis viruses in donated blood and to an experimental vaccine against the disease. The two were elected to the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1993.

Blumberg's far-ranging research interests include epidemiology, virology, genetics, and anthropology. From 1959 to 1963 he was assistant editor of the periodical Arthritis and Rheumatism and in 1963 became editor of Progress in Rheumatology.

[Ruth Rossing (2nd ed.)]