On 15 July, the Royal College of Physicians Museum will host a free online event exploring the historical and modern-day development of vaccination.
On 15 July, the Royal College of Physicians Museum will host a free online event exploring the historical and modern-day development of vaccination. The 90-minute online session Smallpox to COVID: a comparison of vaccine development will compare the first and only human disease ever to be eradicated by vaccination, smallpox, with today’s global challenge, COVID-19.
Speakers, including Dr Ana Duggan, adjunct assistant professor at McMaster University in Canada and Anna Dhody, curator of the Mütter Museum in America, will talk through their fascinating research project into the origin and evolution of the smallpox vaccine. Using the latest scientific techniques, their ongoing project uses historic items associated with smallpox vaccination to answer questions about the variety of viruses used for vaccination purposes across the globe during the 18th and 19th centuries. One of the items being sampled is a set of blades from the Royal College of Physicians’ own collection that is likely to have belonged to Edward Jenner (1749–1823), the doctor who greatly advanced the development of smallpox inoculation.
Dr Gregory Poland, director of the Vaccine Research Group at the Mayo Clinic, will then outline how today’s COVID vaccines are being developed to tackle a modern, pandemic disease. Dr Poland will join the other expert speakers for a panel discussion, taking questions from the audience.
Lowri Jones, senior curator of the Royal College of Physicians Museum, said: “We’re delighted to be able to host speakers from the USA and Canada for this incredibly pertinent and fascinating event.
“The pandemic has thrown the topic of modern vaccinations and medical research into the limelight. It has also given us more reason to look back and reflect on the work of pioneering doctors like Edward Jenner whose ground-breaking research laid the foundations for all future vaccine development, including that of the smallpox vaccine – the only vaccine in history to have entirely eradicated the human illness it was designed to combat.
“Whether we’ll see the complete eradication of COVID-19 through vaccinations is just one of the many interesting discussions we hope to have with our experts on the night.”