Koprowski, Hilary

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Hilary Koprowski, 1916–2013, Polish-American microbiologist and immunologist, b. Warsaw, M.D. Univ. of Warsaw, 1939. He fled Poland after the Nazi invasion (1939), making his way to Brazil where he worked in the Rockefeller Foundation's yellow-fever service. In 1944 he came to the United States, and joined Lederle Laboratories as a viral researcher. In 1948 he developed a live-virus polio vaccine, successfully testing it on himself, and in 1950 it was given in a successful trial to institutionalized children. Although developed before the Salk and Sabin vaccines, it was never approved for use in the United States, but it was successfully used elsewhere. As director (1957–91) of the Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, he developed it as a significant research facility; rubella and rabies vaccines were developed there. He subsequently headed (1992–2011) the Biotechnology Foundation Laboratories at Thomas Jefferson Univ., Philadelphia, and pioneered the use of monoclonal antibodies for cancer detection and treatment.

See biography by R. Vaughan (2000); D. M. Oshinsky, Polio: An American Story (2005).