Albert Sabin, MD, and Gordon Battelle are among six Great Ohioan honorees named last week by the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board and Capitol Square Foundation in Columbus.
A former distinguished professor of pediatrics at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and researcher at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Sabin is best known for his pioneering work in developing the oral, live polio vaccine that helped eliminate polio from most countries.
Gordon Battelle was the son of a well-known industrialist and a budding metallurgist/entrepreneur who died too soon at age 40, following an appendectomy. Through his will, he established the Battelle Memorial Institute “for the purpose of education in connection with and the encouragement of creative and research work and the making of discoveries and inventions.” Today, Battelle is the world’s largest independent research and development organization providing innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing needs.
Honorees and their achievements are featured in a permanent exhibit in the Ohio Statehouse Museum. The other recipients this year are Dominic Salvatore Gentile, World War II fighter pilot; Washington Gladden, clergyman and social reformer; Albert Belmont Graham, founder of the 4-H program; and Gen. William T. Sherman.
Between 1953 and 1960, Sabin worked in his Cincinnati laboratories developing the polio vaccine. His live virus vaccine could be given by mouth via a spoon or on a sugar cube and was believed to give a stronger immunity than the injected killed-virus vaccine, developed previously by Jonas Salk, MD. The stronger immunity and the ease of administering the oral vaccine, made Sabin’s vaccine far superior.
“Few people have had as significant a worldwide impact as Dr. Sabin,” Thomas Boat, MD, dean of the UC College of Medicine, wrote in his letter nominating Sabin for the Great Ohioan recognition. “The fact that younger generations in the United States and many areas of the world are unaware of polio and its devastating effects is the greatest testament to his success and impact.”
Tests in 1959 with more than 10 million Russian children and the administration of the vaccine to more than 180,000 children in Greater Cincinnati in 1960 – which many people remember as “Sabin Sundays” – helped prove the success of Sabin’s vaccine. The Sabin oral vaccine was ultimately selected for worldwide distribution.