Dr Michiaki Takahashi: Google Celebrates Birth Anniversary of Chickenpox Vaccine Inventor

Google often celebrates the birthdays of people who have made significant contributions in different fields. Today it is celebrating the birthday of Japanese virologist Dr. Michiaki Takahashi with a doodle. Dr Takahashi is the one who developed the first vaccine against chickenpox. Since being invented, the vaccine developed by him has been administered to millions of children around the world. It has been an effective measure to prevent severe cases of contagious viral disease and its transmission. The vaccine is still in use today.

Dr Michiaki Takahashi 

Dr. Michiaki Takahashi

Michiaki Takahashi was born on this day in 1928 in Osaka, Japan. He earned his medical degree from Osaka University and joined the Research Institute for Microbial Disease, Osaka University in 1959. After studying measles and polio viruses, Dr Takahashi accepted a research fellowship in 1963 at Baylor College in the United States. It was during this time that his son developed a serious bout of chickenpox, leading him to turn his expertise toward combating the highly transmissible illness.


Dr.Takahashi returned to Japan in 1965 and began culturing live but weakened chickenpox viruses in animal and human tissue. After just five short years of development, it was ready for clinical trials. In 1974, Dr. Takahashi had developed the first vaccine targeting the varicella virus that causes chickenpox. It was subsequently subjected to rigorous research with immunosuppressed patients and was proven to be extremely effective. In 1986, the Research Foundation for Microbial Diseases, Osaka University began the rollout in Japan as the only varicella vaccine approved by the World Health Organization. 


Dr.Takahashi’s lifesaving vaccine was soon utilized in over 80 countries. In 1994, he was appointed the director of Osaka University’s Microbial Disease Study Group—a position he held until his retirement. Thanks to his innovations, millions of cases of chickenpox are prevented each year.

Why he developed the chickenpox vaccine?

While he was working at Baylor College, his son developed chickenpox. This made him turn his expertise into combating the highly transmissible disease. Dr Takahashi returned to Japan in 1965 and started culturing live but weakened chickenpox viruses in animal and human tissue. After five years of hard work, the vaccine was ready for clinical trials.

In 1974, he had developed the first vaccine that targeted the varicella virus that causes chickenpox. The vaccine was subsequently subjected to rigorous research with immunosuppressed patients and was proven to be very effective.

The vaccine developed by Takahashi was then used by over 80 countries. Takahashi was appointed the director of Microbial Disease Study Group at Osaka University in 1994. He held this position until his retirement. The vaccine developed by him helped prevent millions of cases of chickenpox around the world each year.

What is chickenpox?

Chickenpox is a highly contagious viral infection that is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It causes an itchy, fluid-filled blister-like rash on the skin. It is highly contagious to those who haven’t had the disease or been vaccinated against it.

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