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Fox Chase Cancer Center Scientist Named Director of NASA's Astrobiology Institute

PHILADELPHIA (May 18, 1999) -- Nobel laureate Baruch S. Blumberg, M.D., Ph.D., a Fox Chase Cancer Center Distinguished Scientist, has accepted a position to head the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California. While Director of NAI, Dr. Blumberg will continue his cancer prevention work at Fox Chase Cancer Center.

"Dr. Blumberg is a world-renowned scientist and researcher who will bring powerful and committed leadership to the agency's Astrobiology Institute," said NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin. "We are extremely fortunate to have a person of his scholarship, experience and accomplishment. I am delighted that he has joined the NASA team to lead our visionary program in astrobiology."

"The NASA Astrobiology Institute is dedicated to basic scientific research on one of the most fascinating questions in biology--the origins, evolution and destiny of life on Earth and in the universe," said Dr. Blumberg. "NASA's tradition of discovery research, using the remarkable devices and techniques they have developed, will be continued in NAI. I am honored to have been asked to assume the Directorship and, building on the excellent organization that already exists, to lead NAI into the next millennium."

NASA's Astrobiology Institute is an interdisciplinary virtual research institution managed by NASA Ames. Established in July 1998, the Institute employs a multi-disciplinary focus to bring together astronomers, biologists, chemists, exobiologists, geologists and physicists. A key Institute goal is to search for the origins of life on Earth, elsewhere in our solar system and beyond.

As director of the Institute, Blumberg will lead the new public-private partnership in its efforts to promote and conduct integrated multidisciplinary astrobiology research and train young researchers. He will guide efforts to develop modern communication tools and information technologies to link geographically dispersed science teams and laboratories. It is anticipated that his leadership will be instrumental in overcoming traditional obstacles between people and institutions in pursuit of common, multi-disciplinary goals.

"Dr. Blumberg has made a tremendous impact in this world with his remarkable discoveries in the field of science and medicine," said Robert C. Young, M.D., president of Fox Chase Cancer Center. "Now he has the opportunity to make a significant contribution on a new frontier. Needless to say, we're extremely supportive of this new endeavor and we will also be grateful for his continued work on cancer prevention at Fox Chase."

In 1976, Dr. Blumberg was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine for his 1967 discovery of the hepatitis B virus and development of the hepatitis B vaccine. Since the hepatitis B vaccine's widespread availability in 1982, there has been a dramatic reduction worldwide in the number of people infected with fatal liver disease associated with chronic hepatitis B infection.

Blumberg has received many honors, including election to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and the National Inventors Hall of Fame. From 1989 until 1994, he was master of Balliol College at Oxford University and has taught Human Biology as a visiting professor at Stanford University. He has been a member of Fox Chase Cancer Center's staff since 1964. A resident of the Society Hill section of Philadelphia, Blumberg, 73, retains his position with Fox Chase as senior advisor to the Center's president.

Fox Chase Cancer Center is one of 35 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the nation. Fox Chase activities include basic and clinical research; prevention, detection, and treatment of cancer; and community outreach programs.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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