Bela Schick (1877 – 1967) was a Hungarian-born American pediatrician. He is the founder of the Schick test. Bela Schick was born in Balatonboglar, Hungary, and brought up in Graz, Austria, where he attended medical school. In 1902 he joined the Medicine Faculty of the University of Vienna where he remained until 1923. Studying problems of immunity, he and Clemens von Pirquet first coined the term 'allergy' as a clinical entity. His discovery of a test for susceptibility to diphtheria ("the Schick test") made him world famous. From 1923 he directed the Pediatric Department of Mount Sinai Hospital, New York. From 1936 he was also professor at Columbia University. From 1950 to 1962 Schick headed the Pediatric Department of Beth-El Hospital, Brooklyn, NY. His later interests included the nutrition of the newborn and feeding problems in children.
It was in 1905 that Schick made one of his most significant contributions. While working with collaborator Clemens von Pirquet, Schick wrote his first research study describing the phenomenon of allergy, which was then called serum sickness. The study not only described the concept of allergy, but also recommended methods of treatment.
At age 36, Schick moved on to make one of the most important discoveries of the twentieth century—the test for diphtheria. The test, announced in 1913, was a remarkably simple one that could tell whether a person was vulnerable to the disease. It showed whether a patient had already been exposed to the diphtheria toxin, which would make him immune from getting it again. A tiny amount of the diluted toxin was injected into the patient's arm. If the spot turned red and swollen, the doctors would know whether or not the patient been exposed to the disease. The treatment was then injection with an antitoxin.
John Howland Award (1954)