Medical Service

A Woman Medical Scientist Who Tested a Vaccine First on Herself and Her Family Member

Yu Suk Gun is a medical scientist of a preceding generation, who greatly contributed to the development of medical science of the country.

She performed a great exploit in safeguarding the country from the invaders’ germ warfare during the Korean war, and after the war she developed various kinds of medicines needed for the prevention and treatment of eruptive typhus, typhoid fever and Japanese encephalitis.

In particular, she developed an anti-measles vaccine in the 1960s, and thus greatly contributed to the protection of the lives of children. 

Until then measles had been regarded as a horrible life-threatening disease for children. 

With her colleagues, she started research in real earnest and finally succeeded in separating measles virus. People were pleased at their success, but she was anxious about the test on human body which was a must even if the scientific guarantee of the medicine was assured.

She made an agonizing decision to test the vaccine on herself and her daughter first. She had been too busy with her scientific research to look after her daughter as she should do. No matter how strong-willed she was, she was a mother before a scientist. Upon learning about what she was about to do, her mother got so angry that she would never allow her to touch her granddaughter. 

But she did not change her mind.

The anti-measles vaccine could come into being thanks to her self-sacrificing efforts.