Saul Krugman

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Saul Krugman
BornApril 7, 1911
Bronx, New York, USA
DiedOctober 26, 1995(1995-10-26) (aged 84)
NationalityFlag of the United States.svg American
Alma materOhio State University
University of Richmond
Medical College of Virginia
New York University (NYU)
Known forContributions to Pediatric Infectious Diseases (textbook and primary research), Willowbrook Hepatitis Studies
AwardsRobert Koch Prize (Gold, 1978)
John Howland Award (1981)
Scientific career
FieldsMedical researcher
InstitutionsNew York University (NYU)

Saul Krugman (April 7, 1911 – October 26, 1995) was a physician, and later a pediatrician, whose studies of hepatitis, rubella, and measles resulted in the development of vaccinations for these debilitating diseases. The results of these studies were acquired through highly unethical medical practices which came to light during the Willowbrook State School scandal of 1987.


The son of Russian Jewish immigrants, Krugman was born in the Bronx on April 7, 1911. He began his undergraduate studies at Ohio State University in 1929 and, after taking time off following his junior year to earn money so he could complete his studies, graduated from the University of Richmond in 1934.[1]

Krugman began his medical studies at the Medical College of Virginia. After service during World War II — he served as a flight surgeon in the South Pacific — he went on to pursue research at New York University (NYU). Krugman was the first to distinguish hepatitis A from hepatitis B. and made great strides in describing their different characteristics and behaviors. While examining blood samples from patients with hepatitis at NYU, Krugman discovered that heating blood containing hepatitis B would kill the virus while preserving an antibody response when used as a vaccine. From 1958 to 1964, Krugman conducted human testing and trials with live hepatitis virus.[2] After subjects, Krugman and his team would then experiment with developing a vaccine to be used to protect United States military personnel from the chronic and often fatal disease.

Krugman engaged in human experimentation. Under his direction, a number of children with intellectual disabilities were intentionally infected with hepatitis A at the Willowbrook State School.[3] According to the celebrated vaccinologist Maurice Hilleman, "They [the Willowbrook studies] were the most unethical medical experiments ever performed on children in the United States."[4]

Krugman was awarded the 1983 Mary Woodard Lasker Public Service Award. In the words of the Lasker Committee:

"Dr. Krugman's most far-reaching achievement concerns viral hepatitis. In a long and ethically dubious sequence of studies beginning in the mid-1950s, he proved that "infectious" (type A) hepatitis, transmitted by the fecal-oral route, and the more serious "serum" (type B) hepatitis, transmitted by blood, body secretions, and sexual contact, were caused by two immunologically distinct viruses." [5] These studies were sponsored by the Armed Forces Epidemiological Board, Office of the Surgeon General, U.S. Army and approved by the New York State Department of Mental Hygiene. The ethics of the Willowbrook Studies have been widely debated [6][7]

In 1972, Krugman became the president of the American Pediatric Society.

He died on October 26, 1995 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.[1]

Human experimentation[edit]

From 1963 to 1966, Krugman promised parents that their children would be enrolled into Willowbrook, in exchange for signing a consent form for procedures that he claimed were "vaccinations." In reality, the procedures involved deliberately infecting children with viral hepatitis by feeding them an extract made from the faeces of patients infected with the disease.[8][9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Wolfgang Saxon (October 28, 1995). "Saul Krugman, 84; Led Fight to Vanquish Childhood Diseases". New York Times. Dr. Saul Krugman, a longtime head of pediatrics at the New York University School of Medicine and a leader in the development of vaccines against measles, rubella and hepatitis, died on Thursday at Broward General Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He was 84 and had lived in Fort Lauderdale since his retirement in 1991 as professor of pediatrics at New York University Medical Center. ... He was born in the Bronx, the son of immigrant parents from Russia. He did his undergraduate work at Ohio State University and the University of Richmond and received his medical degree at the Medical College of Virginia in 1939. ...
  2. ^ Experiments at the Willowbrook State School "The Lancet" 1971 May 8;1(7706):966-7.
  3. ^ "The Duality of Medicine: The Willowbrook State School Experiments". The Review and Debates at NYU. Retrieved 2018-06-07.
  4. ^ Offit, Paul A. (2007). Vaccinated: One Man's Quest to Defeat the World's Deadliest Diseases. Smithsonian Books/Collins. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-06-122795-0.
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ [2][dead link]
  7. ^ Krugman, S. The Willowbrook hepatitis studies revisited: ethical aspects. Reviews of Infectious Diseases. 1986 Jan-Feb;8(1):157-62.
  8. ^ Hammer Breslow, Lauren. "The Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act of 2002: The Rise of the Voluntary Incentive Structure and Congressional Refusal to Require Pediatric Testing", Harvard Journal on Legislation, Vol. 40
  9. ^ Offit, Paul A. (2007). The Cutter Incident: How America's First Polio Vaccine Led to the Growing Vaccine Crisis. Yale University Press. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-300-12605-1.