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Google Doodle celebrates chickenpox vaccine inventor Michiaki Takahashi's birthday

Published on Feb 17, 2022 07:36 AM IST

Google Doodle: Michiaki Takahashi’s son developed a serious bout of chickenpox, which prompted the Japanese researcher to turn his expertise toward combating the highly transmissible disease.

Google Doodle celebrates the birthday of Dr Michiaki Takahashi.(Google)

The Doodle artwork of the Google search engine is today celebrating the birthday of Dr Michiaki Takahashi, the Japanese virologist who developed the first vaccine against chickenpox. Takahashi’s vaccine is an effective measure to prevent severe cases of contagious viral disease and its transmission and has been administered to millions of children around the world.

Today’s Google Doodle has been illustrated by Japan-based guest artist Tatsuro Kiuchi. Sharing his thoughts behind the making of this Doodle, Tatsuro Kiuchi said he was able to learn that vaccines can overcome a highly contagious disease and change the world.

Born in 1928, Takahashi earned his medical degree from Osaka University and joined the Research Institute for Microbial Disease in 1959. He studied measles and polio viruses, and accepted a research fellowship in 1963 at Baylor College in the US. During this period, Takahashi’s son developed a serious bout of chickenpox, which prompted the Japanese researcher to turn his expertise toward combating the highly transmissible disease.

Takahashi developed the varicella vaccine after culturing live but weakened chickenpox viruses in animal and human tissue. The vaccine was proven to be extremely effective during the subsequent rigorous research with immunosuppressed patients. In 1986, the Research Foundation for Microbial Diseases began the vaccine rollout in Japan as the only varicella vaccine approved by the WHO.

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He was later appointed the director of Osaka University’s Microbial Disease Study Group, a position he held until his retirement.

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