Dr. Baruch "Barry" Blumberg, a Nobel Prize winner, died of an apparent heart attack at NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field on Tuesday, April 5. Blumberg, 85, was a former director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute.
Blumberg was at Moffett to deliver a speech at the International Lunar Research Park Exploratory Workshop being held in the NASA Ames Conference Center.
He was awarded the 1976 Nobel Prize in Medicine for identifying the Hepatitis B virus, an honor he shared with D. Carleton Gajdusek for their work on the origins and spread of infectious viral diseases.
"The world has lost a great man," said former NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin. "Barry saved lives through his research on the Hepatitis B virus. He also inspired a whole generation of people worldwide through his work in building the NASA Astrobiology Institute. On a personal level, he improved my life through his friendship. Our planet is an improved place as a result of Barry's few short days in residence."
Blumberg served as the first director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute from 1999 to 2002.
"Barry Blumberg was a great biochemist and researcher," said NASA Ames Research Center Director Pete Worden. "He was a leading light in the scientific community and a great humanitarian. He also was a loyal and supportive friend to NASA, Ames Research Center and the nation's space program.'
A native of New York City, Blumberg had been a member of the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia since 1964 and was professor of medicine and anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania since 1977. Since 2005, he had served as president of the American Philosophical Society.
He earned his medical degree from Columbiašs College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1951. He remained at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center for the next four years, first as an intern and then as a resident. He began his graduate work at Balliol College, Oxford, where he earned his doctoral degree in 1957.