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Scientist of the Day
Foege, Bill

Bill Foege with his wife Paula

(March 12, 1936 - )
Born in the United States
Year of Discovery: 1967

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Missionary Discovers Way to Eradicate Smallpox

Bill Foege (pronounced FAY-ghee) is an epidemiologist who made a crucial discovery that led to the worldwide eradication of smallpox, one of history's most devastating diseases. He developed and proved the vaccination strategy of surveillance and containment. Prior to his discovery it was thought that 80 to 100% of the world's population would have to be vaccinated against smallpox in order to eradicate it - a daunting, if not impossible, task. His targeted strategy allowed for as little as 7% of a population to be vaccinated, yet still removed the disease from populations, and much more quickly than mass vaccinations.


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Bill Foege
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6% Solution for a 100% Problem
review by Billy Woodward

I've read four books on the smallpox eradication campaign, probably the greatest triumph in human history, and this is the best. The story is told from William Foege's personal perspective and the writing style flows easily.

William Foege is one of the most unknown remarkable men of science. Working originally as a missionary doctor in Nigeria, he discovered and scientifically proved the surveillance and containment method of vaccination that reduced the number of people needing to be vaccinated from near 100% to 6%. As well as doing the science, then administering the strategy, he had to be an action hero, encountering many adventures in Nigeria during the Biafran Civil War and in hugely populated India.

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There is lots of story here, not just dry science. In the African section alone I counted thirty-three interesting anecdotes. Here are two of my favorite quotes from the book.
  • One had to be an optimist with a feel for numbers to be ecstatic at the same time that Bihar had over 5,000 known smallpox outbreaks and had just reported over 11,600 new cases of smallpox in a single week.
  • It wasn't science that threatened to stop us. It wasn't even nature per se. Rather, it was human nature: the human factors that involve strikes, job security, political concerns, turf. I remembered those words from graduate school: "When you tangle with culture, culture always wins." As hard as the daily work had been, this was the only time I was discouraged and uncertain about the outcome. I thought we had lost the battle.
Four separate books should be written about Dr. Foege, a tireless promoter of global public health - his time in Africa, in India, as the head of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and his work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This book covers two of those times and when I finished the book I was energized and itching to go out and help save the world.
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How can the world justify expending $900 billion on military operations and armaments and only a pittance on roads and schools?

Norman Borlaug


I’m now ‘Doctor’ to the patients and I have to cover my ignorance by waving my arms and looking grave.

Howard Florey


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No one ever had an idea in a dress suit.

Frederick Banting


Finally, it must be mentioned that the reported observations allow us to explain the variable results in therapeutic transfusions of human blood.

Karl Landsteiner


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How fast can you count to this #?
Who Saved the Most Lives in History?!

Over 1 Billion

Scientist Lives Saved
1 Fritz Haber
(Synthetic Fertilizer)
2,720,000,000
2 Carl Bosch
(Synthetic Fertilizer)
2,720,000,000
3 Karl Landsteiner
(Blood Groups)
1,094,000,000
4 Richard Lewisohn
(Blood Transfusions)
1,094,000,000

Over 100 Million

Scientist Lives Saved
5 Edward Jenner
(Vaccination - Smallpox)
530,000,000
6 Norman Borlaug
(Green Revolution - Wheat)
259,000,000
7 Linn Enslow
(Chlorination of Water)
177,000,000
8 Abel Wolman
(Chlorination of Water)
177,000,000
9 William Foege
(Vaccination Method - Smallpox Eradication)
131,000,000
10 Leslie Collier
(Freeze-dried Vaccine - Smallpox Eradication)
131,000,000
11 Benjamin Rubin
(Bifurcated Needle - Smallpox Eradication)
131,000,000
12 Aaron Ismach
(Jet Injector Gun - Smallpox Eradication)
131,000,000
13 John Enders
(Polio & Measles Vaccine)
120,000,000
14 Maurice Hilleman
(Measles Vaccine)
118,000,000
15 Ann Holloway
(Measles Vaccine)
118,000,000
16 Samuel Katz
(Measles Vaccine)
118,000,000
17 Kevin McCarthy
(Measles Vaccine)
118,000,000
18 Milan Milovanovic
(Measles Vaccine)
118,000,000
19 Anna Mitus
(Measles Vaccine)
118,000,000
20 Thomas Peebles
(Measles Vaccine)
118,000,000

Over 50 Million

Scientist Lives Saved
21 Howard Florey
(Penicillin Drug)
82,000,000
22 Ernst Chain
(Penicillin Drug)
82,000,000
23 Norman Heatley
(Penicillin Drug)
82,000,000
24 Alexander Fleming
(Penicillin Mold)
82,000,000
25 Gaston Ramon
(Diphtheria and Tetanus Vaccine)
60,000,000
26 David Nalin
(Oral Rehydration Therapy)
54,000,000
27 Richard Cash
(Oral Rehydration Therapy)
54,000,000
28 Norbert Hirschhorn
(Oral Rehydration Therapy)
54,000,000
29 Robert Phillips
(Oral Rehydration Therapy)
54,000,000
30 David Sachar
(Oral Rehydration Therapy)
54,000,000
31 Christian Zoeller
(Tetanus Vaccine)
52,000,000

Over 15 Million

Scientist Lives Saved
32 Paul Ehrlich
(Diphtheria and Tetanus Antitoxin)
42,000,000
33 Shibasaburo Kitasato
(Diphtheria and Tetanus Antitoxin)
42,000,000
34 Emil von Behring
(Diphtheria and Tetanus Antitoxin)
42,000,000
35 Paul Muller
(DDT)
21,200,000
36 Frederick Banting
(Insulin)
16,400,000
37 Charles Best
(Insulin)
16,400,000
38 John Macleod
(Insulin)
16,400,000
39 James "Bert" Collip
(Insulin)
16,400,000

Over 5 Million

Scientist Lives Saved
40 Andreas Gruentzig
(Angioplasty)
15,400,000
41 Pearl Kendrick
(Whooping Cough Vaccine)
13,700,000
42 Grace Eldering
(Whooping Cough Vaccine)
13,700,000
43 Belding Scribner
(Scribner Shunt)
8,595,000
44 Willem Kolff
(Kidney Dialysis)
8,595,000
45 Wilson Greatbatch
(Pacemaker)
8,305,000
46 Karel Styblo
(TB & AIDS Treatment)
7,370,000
47 Alfred Sommer
(Vitamin A Therapy)
7,124,000
48 Baruch Blumberg
(Hepatitis B Vaccine)
6,335,000
49 Irving Millman
(Hepatitis B Vaccine)
6,335,000
50 Kenneth Murray
(Hepatitis B Vaccine)
6,335,000
51 Georgios Papanikolou
(Cervical Cancer Screening)
6,307,000
52 Aurel Babes
(Cervical Cancer Screening)
6,307,000
53 Herbert Traut
(Cervical Cancer Screening)
6,307,000
54 Akira Endo
(Statin Drugs)
5,868,000
55 Gertrude Elion
(Rational Drug Design)
5,438,000
56 George Hitchings
(Rational Drug Design)
5,438,000

Over 1 Million

Scientist Lives Saved
57 James Elam
(CPR)
4,760,000
58 James Jude
(CPR)
4,760,000
59 G. Guy Knickerbocker
(CPR)
4,760,000
60 William Kouwenhoven
(CPR)
4,760,000
61 Peter Safar
(CPR)
4,760,000
62 James Black
(Beta Blockers)
3,650,000
63 Vasilii Kolesov
(Bypass Surgery)
2,610,000
64 Vladimir Demikhov
(Bypass Surgery)
2,610,000
65 Luc Montagnier
(HIV Blood Test)
2,370,000
66 Françoise Barré-Sinoussi
(Isolated AIDS Virus)
2,370,000
67 Bernard Belleau
(New AIDS Drug)
2,370,000
68 Gervais Dionne
(New AIDS Drug)
2,370,000
69 Francesco Bellini
(New AIDS Drug)
2,370,000
70 Nghe Nguyen-Ga
(New AIDS Drug)
2,370,000
71 Andre Briend
(Plumpy'nut to Fight Malnutrition)
2,320,000
72 Stafford Warren
(Mammogram)
1,670,000
73 Jacob Gershon-Cohen
(Mammogram)
1,670,000
74 Raul Leborgne
(Mammogram)
1,670,000
75 Charles Gros
(Mammogram)
1,670,000
76 Walter Vogel
(Mammogram)
1,670,000
77 Albert Salomon
(Mammogram)
1,670,000
78 Nils Bohlin
(Improved Seatbelt)
1,330,000
79 Lawrence Craven
(Aspirin Therapy for Heart Disease)
1,060,000
80 Paul Gibson
(Aspirin Therapy for Heart Disease)
1,130,000
81 Charles Hennekens
(Aspirin Therapy for Heart Disease)
1,130,000
82 Thomas Francis, Jr.
(Flu Vaccine)
1,010,000
83 Jonas Salk
(Polio Vaccine)
1,010,000
84 Albert Sabin
(Polio Vaccine)
1,010,000
85 Frederick Robbins
(Polio Vaccine)
1,010,000
86 Thomas Weller
(Polio Vaccine)
1,010,000

Over 500 Thousand

Scientist Lives Saved
87 Mary Ellen Avery
(Infant Surfactant Therapy)
840,000
88 John Clements
(Infant Surfactant Therapy)
840,000
89 Tetsuro Fujiwara
(Infant Surfactant Therapy)
840,000
90 Ancel Keys
(Linked Cholesterol & Diet)
820,000
91 Porter Anderson
(Hib Vaccine)
660,000
92 David Smith
(Hib Vaccine)
660,000
93 John Robbins
(Hib Vaccine)
660,000
94 Rachel Schneerson
(Hib Vaccine)
660,000
95 Alexander Wiener
(Rh Blood Factor & Infant Exchange Transfusion)
520,000
96 Ronald Finn
(Haemolytic Disease)
520,000

Over 50 Thousand

Scientist Lives Saved
97 Max Theiler
(Yellow Fever Vaccine)
300,000
98 Samuel Kountz
(Kidney Transplants)
227,000
99 Alfred Blalock
(Blue Baby Syndrome Surgery)
169,000
100 Vivien Thomas
(Blue Baby Syndrome Surgery)
169,000
101 Brian Druker
(Leukemia Drug Gleevec)
153,000
102 Nicholas Lydon
(Leukemia Drug Gleevec)
153,000
103 Henry Heimlich
(Heimlich Maneuver)
50,000
104 Patrick, Edward
(Heimlich Maneuver)
50,000

Over 10 Thousand

105 Charles Sawyers
(Leukemia Drug Sprycel)
11,000

The above numbers are rounded and updated annually. See the scientists' real time counters for continuously updated totals.









 
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