Ground zero for vaccinology is Edward Jenner’s home in Berkeley, England. Here Edward Jenner worked, studied, and practiced as a country doctor – and later dominated a decade of my life! Jenner knew that poets talked about the nice complexions of milkmaids, and he heard a milkmaid say she was immune to smallpox because she had acquired cowpox. He came to believe in the protective effects of cowpox after careful review of the experiences of milkmaids during smallpox outbreaks. He spent a dozen years observing before he experimented with the transfer of cowpox from a lesion on the hand of Sarah Nelms, a milkmaid, to 8-year-old James Phipps, the son of a local laborer, in May 1796. Although Jenner had no concept of viruses, immune systems, or vaccinology, he used science to help imitate what he saw happening in nature.
I visited the museum several years ago and was impressed. If you ever have the chance – go there.
- A dose of the pox: An interactive tutorial that steps you through the discovery & ultimate eradication of smallpox using a series of questions. At each step, information & images are provided to help broaden ones appreciation of this scientific feat.