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Katz, Samuel

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Samuel Katz

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Samuel Katz
(1927 - )
Born in
Year of Discovery: 1958


Doctor Develops Measles Vaccine--Then Tests It On Himself to Prove it's Safe

When Samuel Katz completed his medical internship and his pediatric residency he also served as a research fellow in virology and infectious diseases. He then became a staff member at Children's Hospital in Boston, MA and worked there with John Enders for 12 years. Katz became fascinated with the measles virus and in 1958 was instrumental in developing the vaccine using cell-culture techniques and egg inoculations. After preparing safety-tested material for use in humans, he first inoculated himself and then his colleagues in the laboratory. After a series of clinical trials proved the vaccine was safe and effective, the work was published in 1962 and the vaccine licensed in 1963. By 1968 the incidence of measles in the United States had dropped to less than 10 percent.

Katz wanted to reduce the spread of measles worldwide, especially in countries where measles had mortality rates of 5-20 percent. He traveled to Nigeria and conducted studies which once again proved the vaccine to be safe and effective, even in infants who were suffering from malnutrition, malaria and other infections. Encouraged by the results of these studies, in 1978 the World Health Organization (WHO) later began its Expanded Program on Immunization, and included the measles vaccine with vaccines for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio and BCG (for tuberculosis). At that time, the WHO (World Health Organization) estimated that, prior to vaccine availability, 6-8 million children per year died of measles, most in the developing world.

Samuel Katz made numerous trips to Central and South America, China, Japan, Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan nations where he advocated for the use of the measles vaccine to protect infants and children. He served on committees of the WHO and other groups to improve the availability of measles and other vaccines for all infants and children. In 2003, the World Health Assembly passed a resolution to reduce measles deaths by 50 percent by the year 2005. By 2005, the vaccine had reduced the number of worldwide measles deaths to less than 500,000. Samuel Katz remains active at Duke University and in vaccine policy development nationally and internationally.

Measles is caused by a virus and is one of the most contagious diseases known. Measles virus normally grows in the cells that line the back of the throat and in the cells that line the lungs. The first sign of infection is a high fever, and lasts one to seven days. During the initial stage, the patient may develop a runny nose, cough, red and watery eyes and small white spots inside the cheeks. After several days, a rash develops, usually on the face and upper neck and spreads eventually to the hands and feet.

Problems from measles are particularly likely in poorly nourished young children, especially those who have vitamin A insufficiency or compromised immune systems. Children usually do not die directly of measles, but from its complications. The most serious complications include blindness, encephalitis (an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord), severe diarrhea, ear infections and severe respiratory infections such as pneumonia, which is the most common cause of death associated with measles. Measles is a leading cause of death among children, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine for over 40 years. It is estimated that 242 000 people, many of them children, died from measles in 2006. Vaccination has had a major impact on measles deaths. From 2000 to 2006, an estimated 478 million children received measles vaccine. This has resulted in a significant reduction in estimated global measles deaths. Overall, global measles mortality decreased by 68% between 2000 and 2006. The largest gains occurred in Africa where measles cases and deaths fell by 91%.



Introduction by Billy Woodward


Table of Contents

Links to More Information About the Scientist
Key Insight
Key Experiment or Research
Key Contributors
Quotes by the Scientist
Quotes About the Scientist
Fun Trivia About The Science
The Science Behind the Discovery
Personal Information
Science Discovery Timeline
Recommended Books About the Science
Books by the Scientist
Books About the Scientist
Major Academic Papers
Curriculum Vitae
Links to Science and Related Information on the Subject


Links to More About the Scientist & the Science

Medical News Today announcement of Katz receiving the 2007 Pollin Prize:

Duke University article on Katz receiving a lifetime achievement award:

United Nations Foundation video of Katz discussing measles:

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Key Insight

Key Experiments or Research


Key Contributors

The Team
Explore other scientists who furthered this lifesaving advance.
Lifesavers: Measles Vaccine
John Enders
Revolutionized virology - did pivotal early polio vaccine work and developed the measles vaccine.
Thomas Peebles
Worked on isolating the measles virus.
Kevin McCarthy
Worked on inoculating monkeys with a passaged virus.
Milan Milovanovic
Worked on passaging the measles virus through human cells.
Anna Mitus
Worked on passaging the measles virus through human cells.
Ann Holloway
Was Enders' "most able technician and associate" in the search for a measles vaccine.
Maurice Hilleman
Reformulated Enders' vaccine, making it commercially available worldwide.

Quotes by the Scientist

Quotes About the Scientist


Fun Trivia About the Science

The Science Behind the Discovery

Personal Information

Scientific Discovery Timeline

Recommended Books About the Science

Books by the Scientist

Books About the Scientist



Major Academic Papers Written by the Scientist

Curriculum Vitae

Links to Information on the Science