Photo of Ronald J. Eby

Ronald J. Eby

  • National Medal of Technology and Innovation
  • Medicine

For their work in the discovery, development and commercialization of Prevnar, the first-ever vaccine to prevent the deadly and disabling consequences of Streptococcus pneumoniae infections in children.

Ronald Eby on the “Eureka” moment

Millions of healthy children can thank Ronald J. Eby for his role in keeping them safe. Eby devoted his scientific career to developing vaccines that targeted illnesses in children.

Eby was part of a team at Praxis Biologics in Rochester, N.Y., (which later became Wyeth), that developed both the vaccine for Haemophilus influenza and Streptococcus pneumoniae. The HIB vaccine became standard for children entering elementary school. It was approved for use in 1990 and paved the way for the pneumonia vaccine. Marketed under the name Prevnar, the vaccine attacked the family of bacteria that caused thousands of cases each year of meningitis and pneumonia, as well as millions of ear infections. Prevnar was approved for use in 2000 and millions of children have received doses of it since then.

The groundbreaking research and development earned Eby and seven others the “Heroes of Chemistry’’ award by the American Chemical Society in 2003. And in 2005, Eby was among the scientists earning the “Discoverers Award’’ from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

Eby earned a doctorate in chemistry from the State University of New York in 1974.

By Robert Warren