Robert Palmer Beasley was born in Glendale, California, in 1936. He earned his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College and his M.D. from Harvard Medical School, and a master’s degree in preventive medicine from the University of Washington in Seatle. He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Preventive Medicine. Beasley worked for more than 20 years as Professor of Preventive Medicine at the University of Washington at Seattle, then, shortly after taking a new position as Head of the Division of Chronic Viral Infections in the Department of Medicine at the University of California in San Francisco, he was selected in 1987 by the University of Texas (UT) in Houston as Ashbel Smith Chair at UT-Houston Health Science Center, and Dean of the School of Public Health for 18 years. He also served as Allen King Chair of Epidemiology at UT College of Medicine and Director of the American University Medical Center in Taiwan. He retired at the end of 2004 and is currently Professor and Dean Emeritus of the UT School of Public Health and a faculty member at the UT Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. He served as Consultant and WHO Consultant in many countries and was the Chairman of the national Association of Schools of Public Health. He wrote the WHO policy guidelines on the hepatitis B virus immunization.
Professor Beasley’s academic and educational accomplishments in the field of public health, as well as his scientific contributions to society, are enormous. During his over 30-year career as an epidemiologist, Beasley worked on a variety of epidemiological problems, including HIV/AIDS, plague, rubella, rheumatoid arthritis and Waardenberg syndrome. However, he is most renowned for his seminal research into the epidemiology of Hepatitis B in China. His relentless pursuit to unlock the deadly mystery posed by the hepatitis B virus resulted in many important discoveries, including mother to infant transmission of the virus, protecting infants with immunoglobulins and vaccines, proving that the hepatitis B virus is a major cause of primary liver cancer, and establishing an effective vaccine to prevent it, which the WHO recognized as the first anti-cancer vaccine. Further advocacy for the vaccine resulted in the global Hepatitis B immunization program.
Professor Beasley published numerous scientific papers and has a long list of invited lectureships. His scientific accomplishments have earned him several prestigious international awards.
In addition to the King Faisal International Prize for Medicine, Professor Beasly has been awarded the Charles S. Mott General Motors Prize for Research on Cancer and the Prince Mahidol Award for Medicine. He was also awarded the Health Medal of the First Order by Taiwan Government for his pioneering work on the use of the hepatitis B vaccine to prevent the spread of hepatitis B infection in that country. Most recently, he received the Hepatitis B Foundation Distinguished Scientist Award for 2010 and the Maxwell Finland Award for Scientific Achievement (2011). Beasley remains involved in hepatitis B research and prevention advocacy, in addition to his work in fighting other infectious diseases in Taiwan and China. Professor Beasley died in 2012.
Professor Robert Palmer Beasley is recommended as a co-recipient of the King Faisal International Prize for Viral Hepatitis in recognition of his pioneering studies on the epidemiology and prevention of Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and its sequelae, especially hepatocellular carcinoma.