Nobelist Baruch S. Blumberg, MD, PhD, Dies at 85

Blumberg Won the 1976 Nobel Prize in Medicine for His Discovery of the Hepatitis B Virus

April 7, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PA (April 7, 2011) – Baruch S. Blumberg, MD, PhD, winner of the 1976 Nobel Prize in Medicine and longtime Fox Chase faculty member, died of an apparent heart attack Tuesday, April 5, 2011, shortly after delivering a keynote address at a NASA conference in California.

Dr. Blumberg, known to many as Barry, came to Fox Chase Cancer Center in 1964 and served as associate director for clinical research at the Institute for Cancer Research, a position he held until 1986. He was vice president for Population Oncology from 1986-1989 and served his most recent position as senior advisor to the president since 1989.

“Barry was a much-valued friend and colleague for many at Fox Chase, and he will be greatly missed,” says Michael V. Seiden, MD, PhD, president and CEO of Fox Chase.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1925, Blumberg earned his BS in physics at Union College in Schenectady in 1946 and for a year did graduate work in mathematics at Columbia University. He received his MD from Columbia's College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1951. He then went on to become associate director for clinical research and senior member at Fox Chase.

Blumberg was a celebrated staff member at Fox Chase. He was awarded the 1976 Nobel Prize in medicine for his 1967 discovery of the hepatitis B virus and he has received many subsequent honors, including election to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

“I think it’s fair to say that Barry prevented more cancer deaths than any person who’s ever lived,” Jonathan Chernoff, PhD, chief scientific officer at Fox Chase, told reporters. 

Dr. Blumberg married his loving wife, Jean, in 1954. They had four children, Anne, Jane, George, Noah, and nine grandchildren.

The Hospital of Fox Chase Cancer Center and its affiliates (collectively “Fox Chase Cancer Center”), a member 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 five 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. It is the policy of Fox Chase Cancer Center that there shall be no exclusion from, or participation in, and no one denied the benefits of, the delivery of quality medical care on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity/expression, disability, age, ancestry, color, national origin, physical ability, level of education, or source of payment.


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