R. Palmer Beasley

Robert Palmer Beasley ( born April 29, 1936 in Los Angeles, California; † August 25, 2012 in Houston, Texas) was an American epidemiologist who was known for his research on hepatitis.


Beasley was at the University of Washington and a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, before he was Ashbel Smith Professor at the University of Texas School of Medicine in Houston. There he was since 1987 dean of the School of Public Health. In 2004, he went into retirement.

He played a leading role in the development ( in field studies in Taiwan) and the global enforcement ( by WHO ) of a hepatitis B vaccine, which has been classified by the WHO as the first anti-cancer vaccine. Beasley also demonstrated the transferability of hepatitis B from mother to child during pregnancy. This is one of the most important mechanisms of infection for hepatitis B in Asia ( 40 to 50 % of infections ). Also Beasley examined the role of hepatitis B as the most important cause of liver cancer. The relationship of liver cancer and hepatitis, at that time very controversial, he studied in the 1970s in Taipei in Taiwan as head of a research group at the University of Washington Medical School. With Luyu Huang he examined in a study of 22,000 government employees in Taiwan. The researchers found doing a sixty- fold increased risk of liver cancer in chronic hepatitis B infection.

Robert Beasley was also involved in the control of other infectious diseases such as SARS, where he was active as an advisor to the government in Taiwan.