Philadelphia Nobel Prize winner dies

    The Philadelphia researcher, and Nobel Prize winner, who discovered the hepatitis B virus died this week.

    Baruch Blumberg isolated the hepatitis B virus and shared the 1976 Nobel Prize for that discovery.

    Jonathan Chernoff, chief scientific officer at Fox Chase Cancer Center, was a longtime colleague of Blumberg’s.

    Chernoff said Blumberg “closed the loop” on the virus by taking the next step and developing a vaccine to prevent people from becoming ill with it.

    “Because of that, he prevented a lot of cancers. Infection with hepatitis B can not only lead to hepatitis, but in some of the cases hepatitis can progress into liver cancer,” Chernoff said.

    Chernoff and other close associates called Blumberg “Barry.”

    Chernoff said Thursday Blumberg became one of the most famous virologists in the world because of his discoveries, but he wasn’t originally trained in infectious disease.

    Blumberg’s scientific curiosity–and willingness to tackle any subject–made him a great companion for afternoon tea, which the two shared many times.

    Blumberg was 85 when he died.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.