Polio vaccine pioneer Koprowski dead at 96

April 14, 2013 at 11:15 AM

WYNNEWOOD, Pa., April 14 (UPI) -- Hilary Koprowski, a researcher who did pioneering work on the polio vaccine, has died of pneumonia at his home near Philadelphia, his son said. He was 96.

Koprowski, who died Thursday, will be remembered in a private family service at a later date, said his son, Dr. Christopher Koprowski.

The elder Koprowski was credited with the initial breakthrough in the race to develop a polio vaccine shortly after World War II. He created an oral vaccine in the laboratory but Albert Sabin was able to get his version licensed first and Jonas Salk then came up with an injectable version, The Philadelphia Inquirer said Sunday.

Hilary Koprowski was born in Poland and began researching the polio virus during World War II after he and his wife made it to the United States by way of Brazil.

He went on to become director of the Wistar Institute from 1957-1991 and led the development of a rubella vaccine and an improved polio vaccine.

"He very much enjoyed the fact that he did not achieve the fame of Salk or Sabin," his son told the Inquirer. "He said that that would have stifled him scientifically and invaded his privacy."

Koprowski also served as director of Biotechnology Foundation Laboratories Inc., at Thomas Jefferson University.

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