Google Doodle honors Rudolf Weigl On his Birth Anniversary –You must know about Polish Biologist
Google on Thursday celebrated the 138th birth anniversary of Polish inventor, doctor, and immunologist Rudolf Weigl with a doodle. Weigl had produced the first effective vaccine against epidemic typhus—one of humanity’s oldest and most infectious diseases.
Thursday’s doodle shows Weigl holding a test tube in his gloved hands. There are drawings of lice on the wall on the right side and a human body and some more lice on the left. The illustrator has spelled out Google with all that is used in a lab for testing purpose.
Rudolf Stefan Jan Weigl was born in the modern-day Czech Republic in the year 1883. He completed his graduation in biological sciences from the Lwow University in Poland in 1907. Not only that, he earned doctorate degrees in subjects such as zoology, comparative anatomy, and histology.
During World War I, typhus was wreaking havoc in Europe and had killed millions in no time. Weigl decided to take matters into his own hands and do research on the disease. He found that the root cause of it was lice that carried the infection. He grew it in his laboratory and squashed their stomachs to create the vaccine.
By 1933, large-scale testing of the vaccine took place after several years of modification.
While this work is exemplary, his role in saving around 5000 jews in the Nazi ghettos makes him a prominent figure in history. When Nazi Germany heard about him, they asked Weigl to create a Typhus vaccine manufacturing plant. For that, he hired many of his Jewish colleagues and friends so that they do not get deported to the concentration camps.
Weigl went on to study biological sciences at Poland’s Lwów University and was appointed as a parasitologist in the Polish Army in 1914. As millions across Eastern Europe were plagued by typhus, Weigl became determined to stop its spread.
Body lice were known to carry the typhus-infecting bacteria Rickettsia prowazekii, so Weigl adapted the tiny insect into a laboratory specimen. His innovative research revealed how to use lice to propagate the deadly bacteria which he studied for decades with the hope of developing a vaccine. In 1936, Weigl’s vaccine successfully inoculated its first beneficiary. When Germany occupied Poland during the outbreak of the Second World War, Weigl was forced to open a vaccine production plant. He used the facility to hire friends and colleagues at risk of persecution under the new regime.
An estimated 5,000 people were saved due to Weigl’s work during this period–both due to his direct efforts to protect his neighbors and to the thousands of vaccine doses distributed nationwide. Today, Weigl is widely lauded as a remarkable scientist and hero. His work has been honored by not one but two Nobel Prize nominations.
For creating the vaccine and humanitarian work, Weigl was nominated for the Nobel Prize twice. However, due to interference both times, he did not become the recipient. He breathed his last in 1957. However, in 2003, Israel honored him with the title called ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ for his contribution.