Hilary Koprowski, virologist who developed a polio vaccine, dies at 96

Hilary Koprowski, a pioneering virologist who was credited with developing the first successful oral vaccination for polio, died April 11 at his home in Wynnewood, Pa. He was 96.

His son Christopher Koprowski confirmed the death. The cause was not reported.

(AP) - This February 1961 photo shows Dr. Hilary Koprowski, a pioneering virologist who developed the first successful oral vaccination for polio. He died April 11 at his suburban Philadelphia home. He was 96.

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Although not as well-known as researchers Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin, Dr. Koprowski in 1950 became the first to show it was possible to vaccinate against polio, the crippling and sometimes fatal disease that has all but been eradicated.

Dr. Koprowski self-administered the live-virus oral vaccine he developed before the 1950 clinical trial — about two years before Salk’s injectable version using a dead form of the virus began testing with the backing of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, now the March of Dimes.

Sabin — who sometimes collaborated with Dr. Koprowski, according to his son — was the first to get the more effective oral version, which didn’t require boosters, licensed for use in the United States.

Dr. Koprowski went on to be the director of the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia from 1957 to 1991. Under his leadership, the independent research institution developed a rubella vaccine that helped eradicate the disease in much of the world, Wistar officials said. During that time, the institute also developed a more effective rabies vaccine.

Dr. Koprowski was born in Poland. A talented musician, he was a penniless immigrant in Rio de Janeiro making money teaching piano before joining a lab there and eventually moving to the United States, his son said.

 
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