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Protecting children: the American turn from polio to cancer vaccines

Robin Wolfe Scheffler
From 1964 through 1978, the United States poured billions of dollars into an ambitious program larger than the Human Genome Project: developing a human cancer vaccine. This massive program emerged in spite of cancer specialists’ continuing denials that human cancer viruses even existed, rather than through their endorsement.1 This paradox reveals the extent to which the development of biomedical research follows not only scientific consensus, but also how society understands disease.