Giants in History: Michiaki Takahashi

Inventor of the chickenpox vaccine 

Michiaki Takahashi (17 February 1928 - 16 December 2013)


Michiaki Takahashi (17 February 1928 – 16 December 2013) was a Japanese virologist who developed the first chickenpox vaccine. Watching his son suffer from a serious bout of chickenpox inspired Takahashi to develop the vaccine to combat the highly contagious disease. To develop the vaccine, Takahashi isolated the chickenpox virus from a three-year-old Japanese boy and cultured weakened versions of it in animal and human tissues. Named Oka, after the boy from which the chickenpox virus was isolated, the vaccine was certified for use by the World Health Organisation in 1984. Used in over 80 countries, Takahashi’s vaccine has limited the spread and reduced the severity of chickenpox in millions of patients worldwide. 


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