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For Immediate Release: July 16, 2007
Contact: Gina Hebert, MBL, 508-289-7725; ghebert@mbl.edu

Vaccine Controversy to be Discussed at MBL Bioethics Lecture, July 26

MBL, WOODS HOLE, MA—Arthur Allen, author of Vaccine: The Controversial Story of Medicine’s Greatest Lifesaver, will present the Marine Biological Laboratory's (MBL's) Annual Bioethics Lecture on Thursday, July 26 at 4:00 pm in the Lillie Auditorium, 7 MBL Street, Woods Hole. In his lecture, titled "Vaccination and its Discontents,” Allen will discuss the history and controversy surrounding vaccines—from their introduction to the present day.

The lecture is free and open to the public. Public parking is available in the MBL’s Bar Neck Road parking lot, 33 Bar Neck Road, across from the Woods Hole Yacht Club. A book signing and reception will immediately follow the lecture on the Swope Center lower terrace.

Ever since Cotton Mather introduced vaccination to Boston in 1721, the procedure has been controversial. Anti-vaccination movements gained strength after the legality of compulsory vaccination was confirmed by the Supreme Court in 1905 in Jacobson v. Massachusetts. To this day, anti-vaccine agitation and vaccine regulation have gone hand in hand. In fact, this summer, the court is hearing the cases of 4,800 autistic spectrum children whose parents blame vaccines for the condition.

Arthur Allen was born in Cincinnati in 1959 and attended the University of California, Berkeley, where he received an A.B. in Development Studies. Allen has worked internationally for the Associated Press and, since 1995, has written mostly about the biological sciences and medicine for publications such as The New York Times, Washington Post, and The New Republic. His book Vaccine: the Controversial Story of Medicine’s Greatest Lifesaver, was published in January 2007 by WW Norton.

The Annual Bioethics Lecture was established at the MBL in 2001 by Drs. Gerald & Ruth Fischbach to provide an opportunity for the formal discussion of bioethical issues to reach a broad and diverse audience of scientists and concerned citizens. Because so many biologists, including M.D. and Ph.D. candidates, work and receive their training at the Marine Biological Laboratory, the MBL provides an excellent forum for addressing ethical dilemmas emerging in biomedicine. Students in MBL courses are especially encouraged to participate in this important seminar.


The MBL® is a leading international, independent, nonprofit institution dedicated to discovery and to improving the human condition through creative research and education in the biological, biomedical and environmental sciences. Founded in 1888 as the Marine Biological Laboratory, the MBL is the oldest private marine laboratory in the Western Hemisphere. For more information, visit www.MBL.edu