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Karl Habel was the fifty-third president of the American Association of Immunologists, serving from 1969 to 1970. Habel spent nearly 30 years at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where he studied virus diseases and established himself as a world-renowned expert on rabies.
Habel received his M.D. from Jefferson Medical College in 1933 and joined the staff of the Philadelphia General Hospital, where he was an intern (1933–1935), resident-in-charge (1935–1936), and a visiting pediatrician (1936–1938). Commissioned into the U.S. Public Health Service in 1938, Habel was assigned to the NIH, which was relocated to Bethesda, Maryland, that year. He held several prominent positions in the National Microbiological Institute (renamed the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases in 1955), including chief of the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases (1948–1954), chief of the Section on Basic Studies (1954–1959), and chief of the Laboratory of Biological Viruses (1959–1967). He retired from the Public Health Service in 1967 and joined Frank J. Dixon (AAI ’50) at the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation in La Jolla, California, where he continued his research as a staff member until his retirement in 1975.
Vice President: 1968–1969
The Journal of Immunology
Associate Editor: 1966–1971
Committee to Study the Question of Improving the Program at the Annual Meeting: 1957–1958
AAI Representative to Board of Trustees, American Type Culture Collection: 1960–1966
AAI Representative to FASEB Board: 1968–1971