In recognition of his fundamental contribution to the understanding of the nature of poliomyelitis, and the development of a live vaccine that can be administered orally. This vaccine is especially useful for mass programs designed to eliminate the disease, and—because of its rapid effect—it is also useful in quickly controlling epidemics.
More than 350,000,000 people all over the world, including more than 100,000,000 in the United States, have now received this oral poliovirus vaccine. Wherever it has been used extensively, both for initial mass vaccination and for subsequent immunization of new generations of children, poliomyelitis has been either completely eliminated or reduced to only a few sporadic cases.
Many have worked towards this objective, and to them we pay high tribute. But Albert Sabin, convinced that poliomyelitis is primarily an infection of the alimentary tract, committed himself to a long, painstaking, and difficult search for attenuated strains of the virus that could multiply in the alimentary tract, but not in the central nervous system. After more than two decades of work, he succeeded in isolating clones of poliomyelitis that possessed these properties. He then persistently proceeded to the preparation, testing and proof of the efficacy and safety of the live oral polio vaccine which is now in use throughout the world.
For this work, which has dramatized and demonstrated the role that vaccination can play in the control and the elimination of death and crippling disability from the dread disease of polio; for his numerous contributions in other important areas of virology, bacteriology, and protozoology; and for his scientific integrity and courageous persistence, this 1965 Albert Lasker Clinical Research Award is given.