The Story of the Montanan Who Brought the World Important Vaccines
We're continuing our series on Montanan inventors for National Inventors Month. We continue to stay in the field of medicine for our next inventor. Our previous invention was the Holter monitor, developed by Helena native Norman Holter. Today, we discuss the Miles City man that created eight of the fourteen vaccines used in vaccine schedules to this day; Maurice Hilleman.
The Father of the measles, mumps, and hepatitis vaccines.
Maurice Hilleman was born in Miles City, Montana in 1919. According to the book Vaccinated: One Man's Quest to Defeat the World's Deadliest Diseases, Hilleman worked on his family's farm just outside the town, attributing much of his success to working with chickens as a child, because fertilized eggs are used to grow viruses for vaccines.
Hilleman's team is responsible for the creation of more than 40 vaccines including measles, mumps, hepatitis A and B, meningitis, pneumonia, rubella, and the Haemophilus influenzae bacteria. The measles vaccine alone is credited with saving countless lives alone.
Montana born, raised, and educated
Hilleman graduated from the University of Montana after the Great Depression with a Bachelor's Degree in Microbiology and Chemistry, then moved on to the University of Chicago for his graduate education. In 1957, he joined Merck & Company and stayed until his retirement at the age of 65.
Hilleman passed away on April 11, 2005, at the age of 85 due to cancer. His knowledge and life-saving inventions are remembered even to this day, and as a fellow Montanan, I salute him. We should be proud to call this man one of our own from Big Sky Country.