On Maurice Hilleman

I spent today’s evening listening to The Great Vaccinator episode from Radiolab podcast. This episode is about Maurice Hilleman, an amazing microbiologist who is known today as the father of modern vaccine. Hilleman is credited with having saved more lives than any other scientist because he was responsible for developing more than half of the vaccines (measles, mumps, meningitis, etc…) children receive today.

His life was marked by life-changing losses. He was born in the middle of the 1918 flu pandemic, and his mother and twin sister passed away right after his birth. As a young boy, he survived a couple of traumatic situations (e.g. drowning). He lost his wife from his first marriage to cancer. Amazingly, he stayed a pretty resilient, hard-working person throughout it all. I was enamored by his modesty and humility (which are part of the reason why today most people don’t even know who he is). I mean… the guy developed a lot of vaccines but none of his vaccines or discoveries are named after him.

This episode was extremely satisfying to listen to and it was a great episode for better understanding our times.