Journalist Arthur Allen to Discuss New Book at The Wistar Institute: VACCINE: The Controversial Story of Medicine's Greatest Lifesaver

Journalist Arthur Allen to Discuss New Book at The Wistar Institute: VACCINE: The Controversial Story of Medicine's Greatest Lifesaver

April 19, 2007

(PHILADELPHIA—April 20, 2007)—Journalist Arthur Allen will discuss his new book, VACCINE: The Controversial Story of Medicine’s Greatest Lifesaver on Tuesday, May 22, at 7 p.m. at The Wistar Institute.

Allen uses investigative journalism to present the history of vaccination, including substantial controversies and medical benefits of vaccination. “The social history of vaccines, which is to say their acceptance and usage in America, does not always parallel the scientific history,” writes Allen. Allen’s book clarifies the issues underlying the contentious ongoing pro-vaccine versus anti-vaccine debate. He became curious about routine vaccinations after the birth of his first child.

VACCINE is “a compellingly detailed and thoughtful look at the often rough-and-tumble world of vaccines,” said Paul A. Offit, M.D., chief of Division of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and an adjunct professor at the Wistar Institute. Offit co-developed a new vaccine against rotavirus approved for use in 2006.

Vaccination is the most effective health strategy, with the exception of clean water, for reducing disease and improving heath. In spite of this, infectious diseases and related complications cause 30,000 deaths annually in the United States that could have been prevented by immunizations. Vaccinations work by stimulating the immune system to protect against a disease.

Allen has written for The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, The Washington Post, The Atlantic Monthly, and Salon. He writes Slate’s “Risk” column and resides in Washington, DC. VACCINE is his first published book. Allen is a former Associated Press foreign correspondent.

The Joseph Fox Bookshop, an independent bookstore located at 1724 Sansom St., will be providing books for sale at the Wistar event. VACCINE: The Controversial Story of Medicine’s Greatest Lifesaver was published by W.W. Norton on January 15, 2007.

The Wistar Author Series features books about science and medicine. The program is part of Wistar’s public outreach efforts, which aim to introduce the Institute and its research mission to a wider audience.

The Wistar Institute is an international leader in biomedical research, with special expertise in cancer research and vaccine development. Founded in 1892 as the first independent nonprofit biomedical research institute in the country, Wistar has long held the prestigious Cancer Center designation from the National Cancer Institute. Discoveries at Wistar have led to the creation of the rubella vaccine that eradicated the disease in the U.S., rabies vaccines used worldwide, and a new rotavirus vaccine approved in 2006. Wistar scientists have also identified many cancer genes and developed monoclonal antibodies and other important research tools. Today, Wistar is home to eminent melanoma researchers and pioneering scientists working on experimental vaccines against flu, HIV, and other diseases. The Institute works actively to transfer its inventions to the commercial sector to ensure that research advances move from the laboratory to the clinic as quickly as possible. The Wistar Institute: Today’s Discoveries – Tomorrow’s Cures. On the web at