As we are all relying on scientists around the globe to find treatments and create vaccines in the fight against coronavirus, it is a great time to remember, or learn about, Dr. Hilleman! After all, Dr. Hilleman helped to create more than half of the routinely recommended childhood vaccines, and, formally or informally, he mentored many of today’s vaccine scientists. Even for those who did not have the honor of knowing him, his scientific advances are central to the foundation of vaccine science on which we are all counting.

Read on to find ways to remember and honor Dr. Hilleman during this time.

2020 Maurice R. Hilleman Essay Contest now open!
• Have a middle or high school student who is looking for things to do during social distancing?
• Know an educator teaching online?
The 2020 Maurice R Hilleman student essay contest is a great opportunity for students and teachers. Submissions are now being accepted from 6-12 grade students. Participants are invited to learn about Dr. Hilleman’s life and accomplishments and submit a 500-600 word essay that answers the question, “How was Dr. Hilleman’s integrity important to his success, and how is integrity important to you?” Entries are being accepted through June 12, 2020. Complete details and entry form are available at

What better way for students to spend some of their home-bound time than learning, and writing, about this scientific icon? Not to mention, they might win cash and a trip to Philadelphia this fall!

Essays will be judged on adherence to submission guidelines as well as grammar and language, originality, relevance to writing prompt, factual accuracy, and organization. Judging will take into consideration author’s age. Each of three winners will receive a $1,000 cash prize and a trip to Philadelphia from October 22 to 24, 2020, which will include:
• Round trip transportation to Philadelphia for each winner and chaperone*
• Hotel room for each winner and chaperone to share for two nights in Philadelphia*
• Breakfast and private tour at the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia
• Lunch and attendance at celebratory event during which winners will read their essays and receive their cash awards
• Tour of labs at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute
* Transportation and accommodations coordinated through Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Get details and application

Bonus for teachers
As a bonus, the teacher named in each winning entry will receive a signed copy of Pandora’s Lab: Seven Stories of Science Gone Wrong, written by Paul A. Offit, MD.

View HILLEMAN full film and excerpts at home
With many of us sheltering in place, now is a perfect opportunity to rediscover the inspiring story of Dr. Hilleman’s life and work.
• Watch this clip from HILLEMAN telling how, in 1957, Dr. Hilleman was the first scientist to avert an influenza pandemic.
• Stream the film, available with closed captions in multiple languages including Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, and English. (Fee)
• Obtain the full film on DVD or Blu-ray, available with Spanish, English, or Romanian captions. (Fee)
• View the film trailer and explore other excerpts of the film, including how Dr. Hilleman developed vaccines for mumps and hepatitis B.

Resources related to COVID-19
The Vaccine Makers Project provides many materials related to infectious diseases and vaccines. Explore some of our popular resources that help answer questions or provide context and information related to the current coronavirus pandemic:
• Visit “The Coronavirus Pandemic – Answering Your Questions” page on the VMP website. This page will be updated throughout the pandemic with new information and answers to some of the questions we receive about the current situation.
• Discover the VMP high school lessons, called “How Diseases Spread.” Lesson 1 explores the different ways that diseases spread. Lesson 2 offers a case study of the 1918 influenza pandemic, looking at how non-biological factors can contribute to the spread of disease.
• Watch VMP animations that demonstrate viral infection and reproduction, such as A Virus Attacks a Cell and How do Viruses Reproduce?
• Explore the VMP high school lesson about Vaccine Safety (HS Unit 2, Lesson 5), which includes resources to help evaluate online information, including website evaluation “pocket cards,” “Logical Fallacies and Vaccines” and “Evaluating Information.”

Stay in touch!
Questions about the essay contest, the Hilleman film, the Vaccine Makers Project or other Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia projects, programs, or resources? Please contact us at

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