Dr. Victor J. Cabasso, a pioneer virologist and immunologist who worked on creating the polio vaccine and other vaccines against human and animal virus diseases, died Feb. 28 at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Walnut Creek. He was 96.
In his earliest days in America he became noted for his experiments in developing the altered live polio viruses that led to the live virus vaccine now widely used around the world.
Born in Port Said, Egypt, Dr. Cabasso came to the United States after World War II and was a leading researcher at two major research-based drug and vaccine companies before retiring in 1980 to teach French literature in local schools as a community volunteer.
When the German army invaded France at the beginning of World War II, Dr. Cabasso was a young research fellow at the Pasteur Institute in Paris. He earned his degree as a doctor of science in 1941 jointly from the famed Sor-bonne and the University of Algiers, and then fled to Tunis, where he continued his fellowship at the Pasteur Institute.
In 1944, he joined the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency, serving as head of bacteriology and laboratories in the Middle East and Greece. Dr. Cabasso arrived in United States in 1946 at the invitation of an American Army officer serving as a physician with UNRRA who recognized his expertise in the emerging field of virology.
Dr. Cabasso became a research virologist and later chief of immunologic virus research at the Lederle Laboratories in Pearl River,., where he worked until 1967.
In the Lederle lab he and Dr. Albert Sabin created two strains of live polio virus and developed methods for weakening one strain until it could not possibly cause the disease while retaining its complete structure - an achievement that would shortly become known as the Sabin live polio vaccine.
Later Dr. Cabasso joined the Cutter Laboratories in Emeryville to become director of microbiology research and then vice president for research and development before the firm was purchased by the German drug firm Bayer AG.
At Cutter, Dr. Cabasso led a laboratory team that developed the first human antirabies serum after six years of experiments - an achievement that became the first rabies vaccine.
Dr. Cabasso and his family lived in Moraga, and after retiring from Cutter he became director of the Moraga Public Library and took to designing tapestries drawn from sources as varied as Chinese flowers and electron microscope images. They have been widely displayed at local galleries and museums.
He is survived by his wife, Anna; daughter, Jacqueline of Oakland; and son, Phillip, of Sierra Madre (Los Angeles County).
A family celebration of Dr. Cabasso's life is being planned.
David Perlman is The San Francisco Chronicle's science editor.
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/03/22/BA8V1NIJKT.DTL#ixzz1py16hL1q
México a la vanguardia en el Síndrome de Post Polio