January 5th NMAH Program Featuring Historians and Scientists Discussing Vaccination

Pandemic Perspectives

National Museum of American History – Tuesday Colloquium Series

January 5, 2021: Racing for Vaccines

4:00 – 5:00 PM EST

It took nearly 100 years from the first vaccine in 1796 (against smallpox) to the development of a second vaccine in 1885 (against rabies). By contrast, the past 100 years have seen the development of many new vaccines which have prevented over 20 diseases. Yet, even with major investments, vaccines often take many years to develop, test, and approve. Panelists will discuss vaccine invention, testing, marketing, and distribution from a historical perspective and will comment on developments since COVID-19 was first identified in late 2019.

Keith Wailoo, PhD, Princeton University

Paul Offit, MD, Univ. of PA and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

    Diane Wendt, National Museum of American History
Col (Ret) John Grabenstein, PhD, founder, Vaccine Dynamics

Mulford Rabies Vaccine Kit, 1921


Zoom Registration Link (registration is free)


Pandemic Perspectives presents curators, historians, and topic specialists in engaging panel discussions offering perspectives on the current pandemic. Panelists virtually share historic objects and photographs as a springboard to a lively discussion of how to better understand the present. Audience questions are encouraged and will be addressed during the moderated dialogue.

                                         Quarantine sign, 1923

The Pandemic Perspectives web page (including links to recordings of previous sessions) is available at https://americanhistory.si.edu/pandemic-perspectives.





Keith Wailoo

Princeton University

Keith Wailoo is the Henry Putnam University Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University. His research straddles history and health policy, touching on drugs and drug policy; the politics of race and health; the interplay of identity, ethnicity, gender, and medicine; and controversies in genetics and society. Professor Wailoo has authored or edited 10 books and 20 articles along with numerous commentaries and essays. He is former vice dean of the School of Public and International Affairs, former chair of history, and current president of the American Association for the History of Medicine. He holds a PhD from the Department of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in chemical engineering from Yale.


Paul Offit, MD

University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Paul A. Offit, MD, is the director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as well as the Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology and a professor of pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Offit has published more than 160 papers in medical and scientific journals in the areas of rotavirus-specific immune responses and vaccine safety. He is also the co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine, RotaTeq. He is the author of nine medical narratives including Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest to Defeat the World’s Deadliest Diseases; Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All; Bad Faith: When Religious Belief Undermines Modern Medicine; and Bad Advice: Or Why Celebrities, Politicians, and Activists Aren’t Your Best Source of Health Information.

Diane Wendt

National Museum of American History

Diane Wendt is a curator in the Division of Medicine and Science at the National Museum of American History.  She specializes in the history of pharmaceuticals and related health products in the United States.  She has curated exhibitions on patent medicines, Civil War nursing, biotechnology, scientific glassware, and medicine during the First World War. Recently, she led an effort to create a web-based catalog of the museum’s collection of historic vaccines, immunotherapies, and diagnostics related to infectious disease.

Col (Ret) John Grabenstein, PhD

Founder, Vaccine Dynamics

Col. (Retired) John Grabenstein, PhD, is a pharmacist, vaccinologist, public-health leader, and founder of Vaccine Dynamics. He has published over 300 articles and 11 books. Presently, he operates the consulting service Vaccine Dynamics and edits weekly newsletters for the Immunization Action Coalition. Previously, he led global medical affairs activities for Merck Vaccines. As a U.S. Army Colonel, Dr. Grabenstein directed the DoD’s global vaccination programs. In 1996, Dr. Grabenstein wrote the curriculum for Pharmacy-Based Immunization Delivery, a CDC-recognized 20-hour course coordinated by the American Pharmacists Association that has trained over 360,000 pharmacists. His advocacy has helped strengthen immunization programs on multiple continents.


The Pandemic Perspective web page (including links to recordings of previous sessions) is available at https://americanhistory.si.edu/pandemic-perspectives.