Maurice Ralph Hilleman (1919–2005) was one of the greatest microbiologists/vaccinologists of all time. He played a key role in developing vaccines for Asian flu in 1957 and Hong Kong flu in 1968. Over six decades, most of which were spent at Merck & Company, his leadership and innovations blazed new trails in virology, epidemiology, immunology, cancer research, and vaccine development that were unmatched.
His work resulted in current vaccines used for the prevention of measles, mumps, hepatitis A and B, chickenpox, meningitis, and pneumonia, which have saved millions of lives across the globe. The need for close cooperation between public and private agencies, including donors, to promote research in vaccinology is reemphasized by recent global health crises such as the Ebola and Zika viruses, as well as the annual influenza virus threats. Eradication of many diseases is feasible, but requires political support for resources, vaccine development and harmonization of vaccination policies, to be achievable. Hilleman worked with many collaborators in academic centers, in industrial management, with which he led his research and development team to produce world-changing achievements.