August 30, 2019

Maurice Hilleman Trivia

Dr. Hilleman looking through microscope

See if you know the answers to these trivia questions about Dr. Maurice Hilleman's life and work. Learn more about Dr. Hilleman and his amazing accomplishments here

Q:  Which of these is true about Dr. Hilleman?

A. He did not use computers
B. He taught physics to his classmates in high school
C. He played the violin
E. All of these

Dr. Hilleman at his desk

The correct answer is E. All of these are true
Dr. Hilleman enjoyed music and played the violin in the town orchestra in his youth.  As a high school student, he taught physics to his classmates when the teacher was out sick. Although Dr. Hilleman was on the cutting edge of science for much of his life, his wife, Lorraine, remarked that her husband refused to learn the computer, something not uncommon for people of his generation.


Q: Which author and scientist did Dr. Hilleman credit for inspiring his interest in microbiology?

A. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek
B. Martinus Beijerinck
C. Robert Koch
D. Paul De Kruif

Dr. H in lab with colleague

The correct answer is D. Paul De Kruif
Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, Martinus Beijerink and Robert Koch all made significant contributions to the field of microbiology, and Dr. Hilleman was likely familiar with their work. However, he stated, on several occasions, that the book Microbe Hunters by Paul De Kruif was what sparked his interested in microbiology.


Q:  What was Dr. Hilleman’s favorite dessert?

A. Apple pie á la mode
B. Rice pudding
C. Cheesecake
D. Baked Alaska

Maurice as young boy

The correct answer is A. Apple pie á la mode
According to his wife, Lorraine, Dr. Hilleman’s favorite dessert was apple pie “á la mode.”


Q: The virus used to make the mumps vaccine was isolated from vaccine developer Dr. Maurice Hilleman’s ___________.

A. Daughter
B. Granddaughter
C. Niece
D. Goddaughter

Dr. Hilleman working on mumps vaccine

The correct answer is A. Daughter
Jeryl Lynn was the daughter of Dr. Hilleman. When Jeryl Lynn woke her father in the middle of night and complained of feeling sick, he realized that she likely had mumps and swabbed her throat. Ultimately, successfully growing the virus in the lab and isolating it for use as the vaccine strain. For this reason, the strain of mumps virus used in the vaccine is called the “Jeryl Lynn” strain.


Q: What was Dr. Hilleman’s favorite condiment?

A. Mustard
B. Ketchup
C. Mayonnaise
D. Tabasco sauce

Maurice on horseback

The correct answer is B. Ketchup
Friends and family members remember that Dr. Hilleman loved ketchup. His favorite brand – Heinz. His daughter Jeryl Lynn remarked, “My dad was really a man of simple taste. And he liked very basic food. Everything had to have ketchup on it.”

Q: Who was one of Dr. Hilleman’s favorite authors?

A. Ernest Hemmingway
B. F. Scott Fitzgerald
C. Sinclair Lewis
D. George Orwell

MH in academic garb

The correct answer is C. Sinclair Lewis
Dr. Hilleman counted the books Arrowsmith and Elmer Gantry by Sinclair Lewis among his favorite reads. Other books Dr. Hilleman’s friends and family remember him reading include On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin, The Rise of the Western World by Douglass C. North and Robert Paul Thomas, and the Bible.


Q: Which of these jobs did Dr. Hilleman NOT have in his youth?

A. Tree nursery worker
B. Store delivery person
C. Gas station worker
D. Newspaper boy 

Dr. Hilleman as young man

The correct answer is D. Newspaper boy
Dr. Hilleman worked many jobs in his youth, including assisting in a tree nursery, as a gas station attendant and as a store delivery person. He also sold strawberries as a young child to help his family make ends meet during hard times.  After graduating high school, he landed a management job at JC Penny. Although this was a very good job to have during the Great Depression, Dr. Hilleman still wanted to pursue his goal of higher education, but couldn’t afford college. Luckily, he was awarded a scholarship to Montana State College (now Montana State University).


Q: What U.S. president met with vaccine maker Maurice Hilleman to discuss a vaccine for swine influenza?

A. Gerald R. Ford
B. Ronald Reagan
C. Richard M. Nixon
D. James “Jimmy” Carter

Maurice Hilleman in lab with team -Walter Reed

The correct answer is A. Gerald R. Ford
During his presidency, Gerald Ford met with Maurice Hilleman and other vaccine makers to discuss a vaccine for swine influenza. This meeting was held because a swine influenza outbreak was occurring at Fort Dix, a military base in New Jersey.


Q: What was Dr. Hilleman’s favorite movie?

A. The Sound of Music
B. The Wizard of OZ
C. Gone With the Wind
D. It’s a Wonderful Life  

hilleman at blackboard

The correct answer is A. The Sound of Music
Dr. Hilleman especially liked the song “Edelweiss” from the film, and would often sing it to his daughters. 


Enjoy trivia? Check out our weekly Vax Facts Friday trivia series! Every Friday at 9:00 AM ET we post a new question on Facebook and Twitter from September through June, and you can find the answer in VMP News & Events. You can also visit Just the Vax to get more vaccine trivia questions.