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titFox Chase Cancer Center's Nobel Laureate Wins 2001 Fries Prize for Improving Health

PHILADELPHIA (August 31, 2001) — Baruch S. Blumberg, M.D., Ph.D., has been selected to receive the prestigious 2001 Fries Prize for Improving Health for the discovery of the hepatitis B virus and his subsequent devotion to reducing the virus' prevalence around the world.

Blumberg, a Fox Chase Cancer Center Distinguished Scientist and senior advisor to the Center's president, won the 1976 Nobel Prize in medicine for his 1967 discovery of the hepatitis B virus and the development of the hepatitis B vaccine.

Sponsored by the Healthtrac Foundation, the Fries Prize is awarded each year to a person who, in the judgement of a distinguished Prize Jury, "has done the most to improve human health... the one who has done the greatest good for the greatest number." Blumberg's work with the hepatitis B virus - identifying the virus, developing the vaccine, and helping establish public vaccination programs worldwide-are what gained him the attention of the Prize Jury. In particular, the Fries Prize celebrates his continued dedication to these very causes after receiving the Nobel Prize.

Since FDA approval of the hepatitis B vaccine in 1981, a number of nations where hepatitis B is a major public health hazard - from Mediterranean countries to the People's Republic of China - have launched vaccination programs in consultation with Blumberg and his colleagues. Targeted to infants, these prevention programs may reduce the incidence of primary liver cancer caused by the virus by as much as 80 percent or more, as well as preventing millions of cases of acute and chronic hepatitis.

Blumberg noted that the Fries Prize recognizes the invaluable work done by all those who conducted pioneer research of hepatitis. "They laid the invaluable groundwork that myself, my colleagues, and virologists all over the world have relied on as we furthered the basic research, the application of which has resulted in a significant improvement of the public health."

The Prize is a $50,000 award and a bronze statuette, appropriately named "Celebration." The formal award ceremony will be on February 27, 2002 at 11:00 a.m. at the annual Centers for Disease Control's Chronic Disease Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Blumberg is invited to be an honored speaker.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1925, Blumberg earned his B.S. in physics at Union College in Schenectady in 1946 and for a year did graduate work in mathematics at Columbia University. He received his M.D. from Columbia's College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1951. After a clinical fellowship at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, he went to England to earn his doctoral degree in biochemistry at Oxford University's Balliol College.

In 1957 he returned to the United States to join the National Institutes of Health. He headed its Geographic Medicine and Genetics Section until 1964, when he became associate director for clinical research at Fox Chase and a senior member of its scientific staff. From 1986 to 1989 he was Center vice president for population oncology.

He was named to his current role as the first Fox Chase Distinguished Scientist in February 1989. From October 1989 until 1994, Blumberg was also master of Balliol College. He held numerous other academic positions over the years, including University Professor of Medicine and Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania.

In 1999, he was appointed director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Astrobiology Institute headquartered at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. In 2000, he was chosen senior advisor to the Administrator of NASA headquartered in Washington, D.C.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, one of the nation's first comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute in 1974, conducts basic and clinical research; programs of prevention, detection and treatment of cancer; and community outreach. For more information about Fox Chase activities, visit the Center's web site at

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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