Google on Thursday featured a new Doodle on the search engine’s homepage, in a tribute to Dr. Michiaki Takahashi — the creator of the first vaccine against chickenpox, on his 94th birthday. The vaccine, developed in 1974, is still in use today, and has been administered to millions of children, to prevent them from contracting severe cases of the contagious viral disease. The new Google Doodle is currently displayed in India, the US, Australia, Russia, and a few European and South American countries, according to Google.
According to Google’s Doodle post honouring the creator of the first vaccine against the varicella virus, Dr. Takahashi was born in 1928 in Japan, and earned his medical degree from Osaka University, before studying measles and polio viruses at the Research Institute for Microbial Disease at the university. Dr. Takahashi moved to the US after accepting a research fellowship in 1963, after which his son contracted a serious case of chickenpox. This prompted Dr. Takahashi to look for a way to combat the contagious disease.
Two years after he moved to the US, Dr. Takahashi was back in Japan, experimenting with weakened chickenpox viruses in 1965. Five years later, the vaccine was ready for human trials, and by 1974, Dr. Takahashi had succeeded in developing the world’s first vaccine against the varicella chickenpox virus. The vaccine also successfully passed rigorous tests on patients with reduced ability to fight infections and other diseases, and Osaka University became the first WHO-approved varicella vaccine in 1986, which was also rolled out to other countries. Dr. Michiaki Takahashi passed away in December 2013, at the age of 85.
Today’s Google Doodle was created by guest artist, Tatsuro Kiuchi, according to the company, and the Japan-based artist said that he didn’t know who Dr. Takahashi was when he was approached about working on the Doodle. The new Doodle in tribute to Dr. Takahashi is visible in Japan, India, Russia, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Argentina, Italy, Greece, Poland, Australia, New Zealand, the US, and Iceland, according to Google.