The doctor who tamed chickenpox: Google doodle celebrates Dr Takahashis 94th birth anniversary – Times of India

NEW DELHI: Every year, millions of children across the world are saved from the contagious chickenpox — which was once considered deadly —thanks to Japanese virologist Dr Michiaki Takahashi who developed the first vaccine against the viral disease. Today, Google is celebrating his 94th birth anniversary with its doodle, illustrated by Tokyo-based guest artist Tatsuro Kiuchi.
Takahashi’s vaccine has proven to be an effective measure to prevent severe cases of the viral disease and its transmission, even as the world is today battling another viral pandemic today.
Dr Takahashi was born on February 17, 1928, in Osaka, Japan. After earning his medical degree from Osaka University in 1954, he joined Research Institute for Microbial Disease under the varsity and completed Graduate Course of Medical Science in 1959, majoring in poxvirus virology.
In 1963, Dr Takahashi accepted a research fellowship at Baylor College in the United States, having studied measles and polio viruses. But he turned his expertise toward combating the highly transmissible chickenpox after his eldest son, Teruyuki, developed a serious bout of the disease.
Dr Takahashi returned to Japan in 1965 and began developing a vaccine against the disease by culturing live but weakened chickenpox viruses in animals and humans. A vaccine was ready for clinical trials after just five years. Finally, the first vaccine, targeting the varicella virus that causes chickenpox, was developed in 1974. It was proven to be extremely effective following subsequent rigorous research with immunosuppressed patients.
The only varicella vaccine, approved by the World Health Organization in 1984, was then rolled out by the Research Foundation for Microbial Diseases in Japan in 1986. The Japanese ministry of health and welfare also approved it for usage across the world. Soon, the lifesaving vaccine was adopted by over 80 countries.
Dr Takahashi went on to become the director of Osaka University’s Microbial Disease Study Group in 1994 and held the position until his retirement. After retirement, he was given the title of professor emeritus.
He died on December 16, 2013, of heart failure at the age of 85.