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Baruch Blumberg Dies

Baruch Blumberg, who won the 1976 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, died, Agence France Presse reports. He was 85. Blumberg won the Nobel for his work to help identify the hepatitis B virus. Back in the 1960s, Blumberg found a protein in the blood of Australian aboriginals who developed jaundice after receiving a blood transfusion, and he named the protein the Australia antigen — the antigen turned out to be a surface antigen of the hepatitis B virus, Nature's The Great Beyond blog says. Blumberg later served, from 1999 to 2002, as the first director of NASA's Astrobiology Institute. Indeed, he was at a conference at the agency's Ames Research Center when he suffered a heart attack, AFP adds. "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," says former NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin.