Maurice Hilleman

by Sarah from San Diego

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Maurice Hilleman

Millions of adults, infants and children have suffered and died in pain due to not being vaccinated for the simplest of diseases until a beacon of light appeared in their darkness. Maurice Hilleman was a world renowned microbiologist who specialized in creating vaccines and poured himself in his work. Born on August 30, 1919 in Miles city, Montana. Hilleman had an unstable life.  His mother and his twin sister both passed away during his birth. He was brought up and raised on a farm, without having the comfort of a mother. ("Maurice Ralph Hilleman.") With the help of his brother, Hilleman attend Montana State University. He graduated with a Bachelors in chemistry and microbiology. He later attended the University of Chicago and received a PhD in microbiology. ("Maurice Hilleman." The Scribner) Hilleman then joined Merck, a distributor and a manufacturer of pharmaceuticals. There Hilleman applied his intellect and created his vaccines. His ability to identify diseases and create vaccines has saved millions and millions of  lives. A hero must possess certain qualities and he or she must be a person who puts others before themselves and will work vigorously to end what causes others pain. Hilleman has saved millions from the grasps of death with his devotion to helping those in need. Not only has he helped those in need, but he has stopped deadly pandemics, and his findings have created a cornerstone for scientists worldwide. Hilleman is a hero for his contributions to society and his passion to make a better world without disease.

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Hilleman's diligence and devotion to saving lives gave him the strength to create mass productions of vaccines, which allowed him to successfully save millions from their suffering. Hilleman was successful for various things, and his success gave hope for those who needed a little light. During Hilleman's career,

Hilleman developed more vaccines than any other person, including vaccines for the measles, rubella (German measles), chicken pox, bacterial meningitis, flu, pneumonia, and hepatitis A and B. In 1971 Hilleman combined his vaccines for mumps, measles, and German measles, to make the combined MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine. This vaccine became a cornerstone in pediatric preventive medicine. He also developed the world's first licensed vaccine against a viral cancer.("Maurice Hilleman." The Scribner)

Colleagues of Hilleman said the amount of effort Hilleman put in his work cannot be matched by anyone else, and his accomplishments have saved a plethora of people. The vaccines Hilleman contributed to the world are the most basic vaccines us as humans need to stay healthy and alive, without them the human population will plummet. Thanks to Hilleman's tireless efforts many of us can be breathing and living. Hilleman was unique and unlike other microbiologists because he had a different mindset than the others. He noticed differences in the samples of diseases that others didn't notice, therefore allowing him to discover different forms of mutations within the disease and rapidly creating vaccines to stop the spread of them. Hilleman has had many great contributions to the world with his vaccines but one contribution stood above the others,

Mr Hilleman's greatest contribution to a healthy world may have been his work on the safe mass production of vaccines that can be stored ready for use against the pandemics that since antiquity have regularly swept across continents, such as the 1918 flu outbreak that killed more than 20m people. In 1957, when flu swept through Hong Kong, Mr Hilleman identified the virus as a new form to which people had no natural immunity and passed on his findings to vaccine-makers. When the virus reached the United States a few months later 40m doses of vaccine were ready to limit its damage. Mr Hilleman established the flu virus is constantly mutating, making it difficult to provide a reliable vaccine. ("Maurice Hilleman." The Economist)

Through Hileman's discoveries there were millions of lives saved, and a deadly pandemic was wiped out and no more tragedies would have to occur.

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Hilleman's sympathy with others allowed him to understand the pain they were going through and so made it his responsibility to give back to the people by discovering and creating vaccines and giving it to the people who needed them. "The hardships of growing up on a farm on the brittle outskirts of the rugged frontier marked Hilleman for life, yet shaped him into a gritty, stop-at-nothing scientist. The farm also served as his first laboratory, providing Hilleman with early lessons on biology and disease, life and death."("Maurice Ralph Hilleman.") Hilleman experienced a tough life but, his passion pushed him to help others at such an early age pushed him into becoming the hero he is remembered as today. His experiences with life gave him the ability to shape himself into a rigorous microbiologist whose discoveries and accomplishments are yet still saving people worldwide. Hilleman's sympathy towards others allows him to understand the struggle as he has two daughters of his own in which have also gotten sick. No parent would ever want their child to suffer and for hilleman making vaccines gave him a way to guarantee no one was hurt or in pain. "Getting a vaccine through its numerous trials to be licensed for public use was the big thrill in Mr. Hilleman's life, he said. It was like being young again, like being back in Miles City, his home town in Montana, when they had something to celebrate, such as building a barn. "Everyone would get together, sit on a log, get a fresh bucket of water and pass around a cup." Did you say water? Life was simple then, he said. He picked up things there that he could have learnt nowhere else." ("Maurice Hilleman." The Economist). The things Hileman experience in his childhood motivated him to go great lengths and become who he was, a magnificent man who wanted to save lives and give back to those in need.

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There is now light in many people's lives through Hillemans work, and there is not enough gratitude in the world that can thank him for the life saving vaccines he created. Hilleman has created vaccines that have stopped deadly pandemics, saved millions of infants, and he has helped our society become a better and healthier place to live in by eradicating as many diseases as he can. Hilleman is an inspiration for all because he has put his own life at risk for others, by watching viruses mutate and figuring out what is causing others people's pain so he can end it. His mission was to end all diseases and end the torment of people around the world. Hilleman inspires me because he never gave up, and he wanted to give people happiness and a chance to live peacefully without being in pain. His goal was to help people be healthy and happy, and I believe this is what many people should strive to be.

 Mr Hilleman developed some 40 vaccines, among them for measles, hepatitis A and B, chickenpox, meningitis and pneumonia. He developed the one-shot vaccine that can prevent several diseases, such as MMR (measles, mumps and rubella). When in 1988 President Reagan presented him with the National Medal of Science, America's highest scientific honor, it was said that he had saved more lives than any other scientist in the 20th century. His peers said that he had done more for preventive medicine than anyone since Louis Pasteur.("Maurice Hilleman." The Economist).

Hileman is one of the best microbiologists in the world, he never wanted recognition, not even a pat on the back, all he wanted was to end diseases and help people in need. His legacy still lives on in his work even after his passing on April 11, 2005. He is truly an inspiration to all because, diligence, sympathy, and passion is all it took for him to become a lifesaver.

Works Cited

"Maurice Hilleman." The Economist, 23 Apr. 2005, p. 83US. Biography in Context, Accessed 1 May 2017.

"Maurice Hilleman." The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, Charles Scribner's

Sons, 2007. Biography in Context,

Accessed 1 May 2017.

"Maurice Ralph Hilleman." Encyclopedia of World Biography, vol. 26, Gale, 2006.

Biography in Context,

Accessed 2 May 2017.  

Page created on 5/25/2017 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 5/25/2017 12:00:00 AM

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