Doctor Who Isolated Measles Strain Dies

BOSTON, Aug. 3 (UPI) — Dr. Thomas Peebles, a Boston-area physician who as a young researcher made a major breakthrough in work on a measles vaccine, has died.

Peebles, 89, died at his home in Port Charlotte, Fla., on July 8, his family told The Boston Globe.


In 1954, Peebles, only three years after his graduation from Harvard Medical School, made a major discovery about the measles virus.

“I was most fortunate, neophyte that I was, to be the first individual to recognize the effects of the measles virus on living cells in tissue culture,” he wrote in a 1967 report to his Harvard class. “I am sure, as is often the case in scientific endeavor, that much of the successful recognition and isolation of this virus lay in perseverance, newness to the field, and failure to be bound by preconceived ideas that caused others in the laboratory to miss this new effect.”

Peebles went on to found a group practice in Weston, Mass., in 1970 and to join with other practices in a pioneering health maintenance organization. After a merger, he became president of what is now Harvard Health.

Friends and family say he was always modest about his achievements, which included serving as a bomber pilot in World War II and as chief of pediatrics at Massachusetts General.

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