PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A prominent Philadelphia scientist, who won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of the Hepatitis B virus, has died. Dr. Barry Blumberg suffered a heart attack after giving a speech at a NASA conference in California. He was 85.

Blumberg didn’t go looking for the Hepatitis B virus. According to Jonathan Chernoff, scientific director for the Fox Chase Cancer Center where Blumberg did his research, Bloomberg was trying to figure out the genetic basis for why some people are susceptible to illnesses but through that work that he found the virus, developed a test to find it in the blood supply, and then a vaccine to prevent it.

“He probably prevented more cancer deaths than any other person, than any other person who ever lived, because the virus is linked to liver cancer, prevented hundreds of thousands of cases of liver cancer from developing.”

Blumberg received the Nobel Prize in 1976. And that was just his first career. He went on to work for NASA, in their astrobiology program, to try to discover micro-organisms in space.

Reported by Pat Loeb, KYW Newsradio

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