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Prominent Poles

Hilary Koprowski, Polish-American physician, educator, virologist, immunologist, recipient of ISNV Pioneer in NeuroVirology Award

Photo of Hilary Koprowski, physician

Born:  December 5, 1916, Warsaw, Russian partition of Poland (presently Poland)

Summary. Erling Norrby, Secretary General, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences: "As the saying goes, human beings are born as originals and die as copies. Not Hilary Koprowski. This remarkable Renaissance man has an appetite for life which only seems to grow with the passing of time. His encyclopedic knowledge of the sciences and the arts provides enriching encounters for those who have the privilege to meet him."

Early days. Dr. Koprowski was married in July, 1938 to Dr. Irena Koprowska. They have two sons, Claude and Christopher. He graduated from the Faculty of Medicine at Warsaw University in 1939. He also received music degrees from the Warsaw Conservatory and the Santa Cecilia Conservatory of Music in Rome in 1940 and then went to Brazil. Dr. Koprowski then began to dedicate himself to conducting scientific research, although he continued to study music.

Professional career. Koprowski discovered the first vaccine against poliomyelitis which was based on oral administration of attenuated polio virus. In researching a polio vaccine, he decided to focus on the use of live viruses that were attenuated (rendered non-virulent) instead of the killed viruses that became the basis for the injections created by Jonas Salk. Koprowski viewed the live vaccine as more powerful since it entered the intestinal tract directly and could provide lifelong immunity, whereas the Salk vaccine required boosters. Also, taking a vaccine by mouth is easy, whereas an injection is more expensive and needs medical facilities. It was taken by the first child on February 27, 1950 and within 10 years was used for immunization on four continents. After moving to the United States he eventually became the Director of The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia in 1957. He is presently Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the Jefferson Medical College in Thomas Jefferson University.
Dr.Koprowski founded in 1957 "The Pawel Koprowski Memorial Vacation Award" for undergraduate students from University of Manchester, Manchester, England, in memory of his father, Pawel Koprowski, a celebrated Manchester merchant.

Honors and awards. Koprowski has received honorary degrees from numerous universities and he is the recipient of many honors, including: The Order of the Lion from the King of Belgium, the French Order of Merit for Research and Invention, a Fulbright Scholarship, an appointment as Alexander von Humboldt Professor at the Max Planck Institute in Munich. In 1989 he received both the San Marino Award for Medicine and the Nicolaus Copernicus Medal of The Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. Koprowski has received many honors in Philadelphia, including the Philadelphia Cancer Research Award, the John Scott Award and in May of 1990 he was presented with the most prestigious honor of his home city, the Philadelphia Award. In 1995 Dr. Koprowski was awarded the title of "Commander of the Order of the Lion of Finland" by the President of the Republic of Finland. In 1997 Koprowski received the order Legion D'Honneur from the French Government. On September 29, 1998, Koprowski was presented with the "Great Order of Merit" by the President of Poland, for his polio research. In 2000 Dr. Koprowski was honored with a reception at Thomas Jefferson University celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first feeding of the oral polio vaccine (by Dr. Koprowski). At this reception he received commendations from the United States Senate, the Pennsylvania Senate and Governor Ridge of Pennsylvania. In 2004 he received the Pioneer in Neuro Virology Award from the International Society for Neuro Virology (ISNV). Dr. Koprowski is a member of the National Academy of Sciences as well as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the New York Academy of Sciences. He is a Fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, which in 1959 presented him with its Alvarenga Prize. He serves as a consultant to the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization. He holds foreign memberships in the Yugoslav Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Polish Academy of Sciences, the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America, the Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters. Dr. Koprowski is the author or co-author of over 875 articles in scientific publications and is co-editor of several journals. Currently, he is the President of the Biotechnology Foundation Laboratories, Inc. and Head of the Center for Neurovirology at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

This article uses, among others, material from the Wikipedia article "Hilary Koprowski" licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. :
supplemented by information found in other sources

International Society for Neuro Virology
Institute of Human Virology
The Scientist
Hilary Koprowski

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