Parkman, Paul Douglas (1932- )
Parkman, Paul Douglas (1932- )
Paul Parkman isolated the rubella (German measles ) virus and, with Harry Martin Meyer (1928–2001), co-discovered the first widely applicable test for rubella antibodies and the vaccine against rubella.
Born in Auburn, New York, on May 29, 1932, the son of Stuart Douglas Parkman, a postal clerk, and his wife Mary née Klumpp, a homemaker, Parkman graduated from Weedsport, New York, High School in 1950. His father also served on the Weedsport Central School Board of Education and raised turkeys and chickens to help finance his son's education. Parkman took advantage of a special three-year premedical program at St. Lawrence University, majored in biology, and received both his M.D. from the State University of New York Upstate Medical Center College of Medicine (now Upstate Medical University) and his B.S. from St. Lawrence together in 1957.
After his internship at Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital, Cooperstown, New York, from 1957 to 1958, and his residency in pediatrics at the Upstate Medical Center Hospitals from 1958 to 1960, Parkman joined the army and was assigned to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C. In 1963, he began working for the Division of Biologics Standards, National Institutes of Health (NIH), as a virologist. From 1963 to 1972, he was chief of the Section of General Virology in the Laboratory for Viral Immunology at the Division of Biologics Standards. In 1973, the Division of Biologics Standards was transferred to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), where Parkman remained until he retired from federal government service on July 31, 1990. He served the FDA as director of the Division of Virology and from 1973 to 1987 in a variety of roles within the Bureau of Biology and the Center for Drugs and Biologics. From 1987 to 1990, he was the founding director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation. After his retirement, he remained in Kensington, Maryland, to consult on biological products, especially vaccines.
At Walter Reed in 1960, Parkman and his associates Edward Louis Buescher (b. 1925) and Malcolm Stewart Artenstein (b. 1930) found and used an opportunity to study rubella, which they noticed was common among military recruits. Simultaneously working on the same problem were Thomas Huckle Weller (b. 1915) and Franklin Allen Neva (b. 1922) at Harvard Medical School. In 1962 the two teams independently succeeded in isolating the virus, a member of the Togaviridae family, and each published its results in the same volume of the Proceedings of the Society of Experimental Biology and Medicine.
Upon developing the first reliable test for rubella antibodies, thus making accurate diagnosis of the disease possible, Parkman immediately began to create a vaccine from the attenuated virus. Meyer, Parkman, and Theodore Constantine Panos (b. 1915) reported successful clinical trials of their vaccine in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1966. The last major rubella epidemic was in 1964. In the 1970s, the rubella vaccine became a component of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR), now commonly administered to children at 15 months.
See also Immunization; Virology