Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: Sabin, Albert Bruce from Philip's Encyclopedia

US virologist, b. Russia. In 1957, Sabin developed a live-virus oral vaccine against poliomyelitis (polio). It replaced Jonas Salk's inactivated virus vaccine.


Summary Article: Sabin, Albert Bruce
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Russian-born US microbiologist who developed a highly effective, live vaccine against polio. The earlier vaccine, developed by physicist Jonas Salk, was based on heat-killed viruses. Sabin was convinced that a live form would be longer-lasting and more effective, and in 1957 he succeeded in weakening the virus so that it lost its virulence. The vaccine can be given by mouth.

Life Sabin was born in Białystok (now in Poland). Emigrating with his parents to the USA 1921, he was educated at New York University. After a period at the Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research, he was professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine 1946–60.

Polio vaccine He became interested in polio research while working at the Rockefeller Institute. In 1936, he and a co-worker were able to make polio viruses from monkeys grow in tissue cultures from the brain cells of a human embryo. He concentrated on developing a live-virus vaccine because it would not, like the Salk vaccine, have to be injected. Sabin succeeded in finding virus strains of all three types of polio, each producing its own variety of antibody. The single-dose vaccine worked by inducing a harmless infection of the intestinal tract, causing rapid antibody formation and thereby providing lasting immunity.

Sabin was unable to test his new vaccine in America because, at an earlier stage of the Salk vaccine's development in 1954, a faulty batch caused paralytic polio in some children. However, Sabin managed to interest the Russians in his vaccine, and subsequently was able to report in 1959 that 4.5 million vaccinations had been successfully carried out. The vaccine was commercially available by 1961.

© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.

Related Articles


Full text Article Sabin, Albert
Science in the Contemporary World: An Encyclopedia

(1906–1993) Although the virologist Albert Sabin failed to develop the first effective vaccine for polio, he did develop the live-virus form of...

Full text Article Sabin , Albert (Bruce) (1906 - 1993)
The Cambridge Dictionary of Scientists

Polish by birth, the Sabin family emigrated to the USA in 1921, and Albert Sabin studied at New York Medical School....

Full text Article Sabin, Albert (1906–93)
Encyclopedia of Global Health

Born on August 26, 1906, in Bialystok, Poland, to Jacob and Tillie Sabin, Albert B. Sabin is known for his discovery of the live polio vaccine...

See more from Credo