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Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Inventor of hepatitis B vaccine to speak at UB

Nobel Prize winner Baruch S. Blumberg, M.D., Ph.D., will speak about the importance of science on public health and the excitement of being on the cutting edge of medical research during his speech at UB next week.

Blumberg will present his lecture, "The Adventure of Science and Discovery," Thursday, April 16 at 5 p.m. in Farber Hall's Butler Auditorium on South Campus.

Blumberg, a professor of medicine and anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania and Distinguished Scientist at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, was awarded the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize for discovering the Hepatitis B virus (HBV) as well as developing its vaccine, which has been proven to decrease the occurrence of the virus.

According to Jo Freudenheim, Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine (SPM), Blumberg's discovery revolutionized the medical field by reducing the risk of the fatal virus.

"Hepatitis B is a major source of sickness and death in large parts of the world and is a cause of liver cancer," Freudenheim said.

In addition to his early work with HBV, Blumberg is currently director of research with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Astrobiology Institute. His research focuses on the origin, evolution and destiny of life on Earth and in the universe.

Blumberg's lecture will focus on both his former work in developing the HBV vaccine and his current work with the NASA Astrobiology Institute, according to Freudenheim.

Freudenheim is confident that Blumberg will inspire students with his insight into scientific developments and his desire to make a difference in the field.

"It's a great opportunity to see someone who is a great scientist and made an enormous impact on public health," Freudenheim said. "[It's an] experience to see what happens on the cutting edge.

Blumberg will come to UB as part of the annual Saxon Graham Lectureship series. Graham, a scholar in the field of epidemiology and the former chair of SPM from 1981 to 1991, is renowned for his studies on the impact of diet on cancer.

SPM, an important sector of UB's School of Public Health and Health Professions, selects scholars who share the same passions and goals as Graham to speak at these lectures.

"[Blumberg] knew Graham," Freudenheim said. "Part of his work involves epidemiology."

The general public is invited to attend Blumberg's lecture free of charge.

Freudenheim emphasizes that Blumberg's talk can motivate all students, even if they are not interested in the scientific field.

"It's of interest to anyone," Freudenheim said. "Science and technology really has an impact on all of our lives."



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