Profiles in Public Health: Peter J. Moloney

Peter J. Moloney

Distinguished Scientist, Teacher and Vaccine Developer

Dr. Peter J. Moloney earned an MA in Chemistry from the University of Toronto, was engaged in the Food Laboratory of the Department of Agriculture in Ottawa and in 1919, was appointed research chemist in the Connaught Laboratories. His first studies were of diphtheria toxin and after receiving his PhD in 1921, began work on the purification of insulin for its clinical use. Dr. Moloney was given the responsibility of preparing the diphtheria toxoid for Connaught Laboratories in 1924, making is early use possible in Canada. He was Assistant Director of Connaught until 1955 and contributed to the development of the so-called “reaction test” for diphtheria toxoid. In studies with tetanus toxoid, he developed methods for its assay and purification and elucidated its antigenic constituents. Dr. Moloney was also one of a team that successfully devised methods for the preparation of penicillin during World War II—an urgency and complex challenge. Similarly, the call for a potent polyvalent gas gangrene antiserum was successfully met through the work of his colleagues and his own studies and at the close of the war, Dr. Moloney was honoured with the Order of the British Empire In 1931 he was appointed head of a newly established Chemistry in Relation to Hygiene department of the School of Hygiene, which provided courses of instruction for postgraduate students and for PhD candidates. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1935 and was a member of the American Chemical Society, the Bio-chemical Societies of Canada and Great Britain and the Canadian Physiological Society. It is for his sterling character and his kindness that his students and friends across Canada speak of his name with gratitude. Dr. Peter J. Moloney was awarded CPHA’s Honorary Life Membership in 1962.

(Canadian Journal of Public Health, Vol. 53, June 1962)