Polio Place

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Victor J. Cabasso, DSc

Born: April 1, 1915
Died: February 28, 2012

Major Contribution:

Victor J. Cabasso was a pioneer virologist and immunologist who worked with Dr. Albert Sabin on creating the polio vaccine. At the Lederle Laboratories in New York, they created two strains of live polio virus and developed methods for weakening one strain until it could not possibly cause the disease while retaining its complete structure. The weakened strain became known as the Sabin live polio vaccine.

Other Information:

Brief Biography: Cabasso was born in Port Said, Egypt in 1915. He was a research fellow at the Pasteur Institute in Paris when the Nazis overran France at the beginning of World War II. In an interview with Contra Costa Times, Victor’s son, Philip, stated, "His faculty adviser hid him from the Nazis. As the allies were chasing the Germans out of various parts of Europe, he was setting up microbiology labs for the United Nations."

He earned his degree as a doctor of science in 1941 jointly from the famed Sorbonne and the University of Algiers, and then fled to Tunis, where he continued his fellowship at the Pasteur Institute.

Dr. Cabasso arrived in United States in 1946 and became a leading researcher at two major research-based drug and vaccine companies- Lederle Laboratories and the Cutter Laboratories in Emeryville. At the latter, he led a team that developed the first human anti-rabies serum after six years of experiments. The achievement became the first rabies vaccine. In addition to the poliovirus and rabies, his work included many bacterial and viral infections of humans and animals, such as tuberculosis, leprosy, trachoma, typhus, canine distemper, measles, mumps, rubella, and viral hepatitis.

He was a member of the New York Academy of Sciences, the New York Academy of Medicine, the American and Northern California Societies of Microbiology, and the International Association of Biological Standardization, was an honorary member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, and served on committees of the National Academy of Science and National Science Foundation. He published more than 100 works and held 10 medical patents

April 2012/Carol K. Elliott

Major Articles: Victor J. Cabasso, DSc


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