Dr Michiaki Takahashi: Why Google honours him today

A look at the life and work of Michiaki Takahashi, the scientist that developed the chickenpox vaccine.

Japanese scientist Michiaki Takahashi, renowned for the development of the varicella vaccine, would have been 94 years old on February 17.

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Takahashi, who died in 2013, is also recognised for his research on measles and polio vaccines.

On Thursday, Google is changing its logo in 13 countries to a doodle, or illustration, in his honour. This is his story:

Takahashi was born in 1928 in Osaka, Japan. He earned his medical degree from Osaka University in 1954.

Four years later, he became an assistant professor at the Research Institute for Microbial Disease of Osaka University. 

During this time, Dr Yoshiomi Okuno led the laboratory and played a leading role in researching and developing vaccines for measles, rubella and mumps.

In the research institute, Takahashi dedicated his time to studying measles and polio.

In 1963, he moved to the United States with his wife and two children after accepting a research fellowship at Baylor College.

Chickenpox in his family:
 In 1964, his 3-year old son developed varicella after coming into contact with the daughter of a neighbouring family in Houston.

While the girl was with his family, Takahashi detected a “blister-like rash on the girl’s head”, he said in an interview published in 2011 in the Financial Times.

Takahashi recognised the symptoms, knowing it could be severe and that there was no treatment.

His son developed severe symptoms, with vesicles over his entire body and a high fever.

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