August 20, 2019

Maurice Hilleman Trivia

Dr. Hilleman looking through microscope

Throughout August, we're celebrating Dr. Maurice Hilleman's 100th birthday by posting trivia questions about his life and work. Learn more about Dr. Hilleman and his amazing accomplishments here

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.

Enjoy trivia? Check out our weekly Vax Facts Friday trivia series starting back up in the fall! Every Friday at 12:00 PM 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.
Check out more trivia about Dr. Hilleman below.


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.