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The History of Vaccines is a project by The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

was founded in 1787  “to advance the science of medicine and to thereby lessen human misery.” One of the founders of the College was Benjamin Rush, . Today, the College’s mission is "to advance the cause of health while upholding the ideals and heritage of medicine." All aspects of the College—its , its , the world-renowned , its public health initiatives, and its public lecture series—serve this mission.


Mission Statement

The College has created The History of Vaccines to provide a living, changing chronicle of the compelling history of vaccination, from pre-Jennerian variolation practices, to the defeat of polio in the Western Hemisphere, to cutting-edge approaches to novel vaccines and vaccine delivery. The site aims to increase public knowledge and understanding of the ways in which vaccines, toxoids, and passive immunization work, how they have been developed, and the role they have played in the improvement of human health.

The site also discusses some of the controversies about vaccination and some of the challenges, difficulties, and tragic events that have occurred in the use of vaccines.

Much of the historical material that appears on The History of Vaccines comes from The College’s Historical Medical Library and its wealth of rare books, medical journals, manuscripts, and archives.


Our Audience

The History of Vaccines is targeted to parents who are making vaccination decisions for their children; secondary school and university students in biology, health, and history classes; and those among the general public who want to know more about vaccines and their history.


Editorial Policy

The content of The History of Vaccines is developed by College staff members, who engage the full resources of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia and its Fellowship. The current editor is . He is an Associate in the Epidemiology Department at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and an Adjunct in the Department of Global and Community Health at George Mason University. René has worked at the Maryland Department of Health, at the Anne Arundel County (Maryland) Health Department, at the Fairfax County (Virginia) Health Department as an epidemiologist. He has also worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a consultant during the Zika Viral Disease epidemic response in Puerto Rico.

The History of Vaccines staff members rely as well on an independent Editorial Advisory Board. These three entities are solely responsible for the content of the site.

Editorial Advisory Board members have adopted a conflict of interest policy, stating that they will remove themselves from discussions and voting if they or an immediate family member has a material economic interest in a particular matter.

Vaccine-related news headlines and medical publications are scanned weekly, and content is updated as needed when new developments occur. History of Vaccines staff conducts a thorough review of site content every six months.

Editorial Advisory Board 

Andreas Bollmann, MD, PhD, FAAP 

Attending Physician, Pediatric Associates, Inc.

Esther Chernak, MD, MPH

Associate Clinical Professor, Director of the Center for Public Health Readiness and Communication; Drexel University School of Public Health

Thomas Fekete, MD

Thomas Durant Chair of Medicine, Department of Medicine; Professor, Medicine; Professor, Microbiology and Immunology; School of Medicine, Temple University

Hilary Koprowski, MD (dec.)

Professor Laureate, The Wistar Institute; Professor, Department of Cancer Biology, Thomas Jefferson University

Paul A. Offit, MD

Attending Physician, Section of Infectious Diseases; Director, Vaccine Education Center; The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia 

Carla M. Owens, MA, LPC

Parent Advisory Board, Voices for Vaccines

Stanley A. Plotkin, MD 

Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania; Emeritus Professor, The Wistar Institute

Lisa Rosner, PhD 

Professor of History, Stockton College

George M. Wohlreich, MD, MA, DSc (Hon), FCPP

Former President and CEO, The College of Physicians of Philadelphia

Michael Yudell, PhD, MPH

Vice Dean and Professor, College of Health Solutions, Arizona State University

Industry Advisory Board 

The Industry Advisory Board of The History of Vaccines provides guidance on matters related to vaccine manufacturing and does not exercise control or influence over site content or editorial policy.

Joseph S. Camardo, MD 

Senior Vice President, Celgene Corporation

Matthew P. Morrow, MPhil, PhD

Product Development Scientist, Inovio Pharmaceuticals



The History of Vaccines is supported by The College of Physicians of Philadelphia as well as donors to the project. Donors do not shape the content of this website.

The History of Vaccines accepts funding from groups that support our aim to educate the public on the history of vaccines. Editorial control of the site rests entirely with the staff of The History of Vaccines, with The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, and with the Editorial Advisory Board of The History of Vaccines.

Corporate contributions are in the form of educational grants. Agreements with corporate contributors specify that donors do not have review of or control over the content or policies of The History of Vaccines.

The History of Vaccines enjoys the support of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia as well as its donors.

Contributions from the following organizations support The History of Vaccines:

  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc.

Other supporters have included Pfizer Inc, The Independence Foundation, and Sanofi Pasteur.


Collaborate with Us

You can link to The History of Vaccines () and help us spread the word about this project.

Follow us on social media on Twitter (), Facebook (), and Instagram ().

Those interested in partnerships with The History of Vaccines that might help us garner readers and attention can email us.