Nobel winner, NASA astrobiologist Blumberg dies

April 6, 2011

Baruch Blumberg, who won the Nobel Prize for helping identify the Hepatitis B virus and who served as the first chief of NASA's Astrobiology Institute, has died at the age of 85, NASA said Wednesday.

Blumberg died of an apparent heart attack while attending a NASA conference in California on Tuesday, the US space agency said in a statement.

"Barry Blumberg was a great biochemist and researcher," said Ames 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."

Blumberg headed the NASA Astrobiology Institute from 1999 to 2002, and won the 1976 Nobel Prize in Medicine for identifying the Hepatitis B virus.

He shared the prize that year with D. Carleton Gajdusek, who was known for his work on infectious viral diseases. Gajdusek, who pled guilty to one charge of molesting a young boy and served jail time for pedophilia, died in 2008.

Blumberg was described as a "great man" by former NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin.

"Barry saved lives through his research on the virus. He also inspired a whole generation of people worldwide through his work in building the NASA Astrobiology Institute," he said.

"Our planet is an improved place as a result of Barry's few short days in residence."

Astrobiology is the study of life in the universe and the search for life forms beyond what is known on Earth.

Explore further: NASA honors former astronaut John Young

Related Stories

NASA honors former astronaut John Young

July 21, 2005

Space pioneer John Young has been named a NASA Ambassador of Exploration. The award, along with a commemorative moon rock, were presented Wednesday during a ceremony at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

NASA and Google to Bring Space Exploration Down to Earth

December 18, 2006

NASA Ames Research Center and Google have signed a Space Act Agreement that formally establishes a relationship to work together on a variety of challenging technical problems ranging from large-scale data management and ...

NASA Selects Science Teams for Astrobiology Institute

October 3, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA has awarded five-year grants, averaging $7 million each, to 10 research teams from across the country, including two from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, to study the origins, evolution, ...

EU gives green light for while-you-wait hepatitis B test

May 18, 2010

An inexpensive new test for the detection of Hepatitis B virus has been given regulatory approval for use in the European Union. The test, developed with support from the Wellcome Trust, delivers accurate results while-you-wait, ...

Recommended for you

Rosetta captures comet outburst

August 25, 2016

In unprecedented observations made earlier this year, Rosetta unexpectedly captured a dramatic comet outburst that may have been triggered by a landslide.

ALMA finds unexpected trove of gas around larger stars

August 25, 2016

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) surveyed dozens of young stars—some Sun-like and others approximately double that size—and discovered that the larger variety have surprisingly ...

35 years on, Voyager's legacy continues at Saturn

August 25, 2016

Saturn, with its alluring rings and numerous moons, has long fascinated stargazers and scientists. After an initial flyby of Pioneer 11 in 1979, humanity got a second, much closer look at this complex planetary system in ...

Rocky planet found orbiting habitable zone of nearest star

August 24, 2016

An international team of astronomers including Carnegie's Paul Butler has found clear evidence of a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our Solar System. The new world, designated Proxima b, orbits its cool ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.