Medicine: Prize for the Conquerors

The Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses V may have died of it. England's Queen Elizabeth I was so badly stricken at age 29 that she became bald and began wearing red wigs. Even George Washington bore its telltale scars. Their common affliction was smallpox, a fearful scourge with no known cure that until recently still took millions of lives* in Africa, Asia and other parts of the Third World. Now, after perhaps the most extraordinary disease-prevention campaign of all time, it may finally be wiped off the face of the earth.

Prestigious Prize. Last week the...