Washington: Baruch Blumberg, who won the Nobel Prize for helping identify the Hepatitis B virus and who
served as the first chief of NASA`s Astrobiology Institute,
has died at the age of 85, NASA said.
Blumberg died of an apparent heart attack while
attending a NASA conference in California on Tuesday, the US
space agency said in a statement.
"Barry Blumberg was a great biochemist and
researcher," said Ames Center Director Pete Worden.
"He was a leading light in the scientific community
and a great humanitarian. He also was a loyal and supportive
friend to NASA, Ames Research Center and the nation`s space
Blumberg headed the NASA Astrobiology Institute from
1999 to 2002, and won the 1976 Nobel Prize in Medicine for
identifying the Hepatitis B virus.
He shared the prize that year with D. Carleton
Gajdusek, who was known for his work on infectious viral
diseases. Gajdusek, who pled guilty to one charge of molesting
a young boy and served jail time for pedophilia, died in 2008.
Blumberg was described as a "great man" by former NASA
Administrator Daniel Goldin.
"Barry saved lives through his research on the
Hepatitis B virus. He also inspired a whole generation of
people worldwide through his work in building the NASA
Astrobiology Institute," he said.
"Our planet is an improved place as a result of
Barry`s few short days in residence."
Astrobiology is the study of life in the universe and
the search for life forms beyond what is known on Earth.