Dean History: Dr. Hart Van Riper- Dean - WI

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Dean Medical Group's History

A Tour Through The Decades

Dean History: Dr. Hart Van Riper

Dr. Hart Van RiperDr. Hart Van Riper: Polio Vaccine Leader

Dean Clinic’s first pediatrician was Dr. Hart Van Riper, who joined the team in October 1933. Active in Masonic work, he also served as president of the Madison Optimists Club. He frequently spoke to community groups on child health-related topics, including immunizations, vaccinations, contagion, infection and preventable diseases.

National epidemic

Polio had spread in frightening epidemics in the 1930s through the mid-1950s. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, himself a polio victim, in 1938 created the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis—the forerunner of the March of Dimes. Little federal money had been available for what is now known as biomedical research. But the foundation and its March of Dimes campaigns raised about $50 million a year by the late 1940s to support research for a cure and help purchase iron lungs for use by hospitalized polio victims.

Local expertise

In 1941, Dr. Van Riper left the Dean Clinic and went to Washington to work in the Maternal and Child Health Division of the Children’s Bureau of the Labor Department. Four years later, he became the medical director of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. As the foundation’s medical director, Dr. Van Riper shepherded the development of the vaccines that virtually wiped out polio in the United States.

Polio was defeated in the late 1950s when the Salk vaccine and polio shots came into wide use, followed by the oral – and “ouchless” – Sabin version. Dr. Van Riper played a central liaison role in the development of both vaccines.

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