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Dr. Albert Bourla, as CEO of Pfizer, has overseen the development of the world’s first safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.

Long before he stepped up to lead one of the world’s premiere biopharmaceutical companies, Dr. Bourla was born in Thessaloniki, Greece to a family with deep roots in the city’s Sephardic Jewish community. His parents were among the few to survive the Holocaust in the Greek port city. Although Dr. Bourla now lives in New York, he is deeply connected to his Greek Jewish roots.

In this “Legacies” program, Dr. Bourla is interviewed by Robert Krulwich, science and technology journalist and longtime host of the double Peabody Award–winning show Radiolab. They discuss Dr. Bourla’s experience as the son of Holocaust survivors and how his family and upbringing have informed his accomplished career.

Watch the program below.


Supporting materials:

  • Click here to watch a video with historical context on the Jews of Thessaloniki.
  • Learn About Another Jewish Family From Thessaloniki – In August 2020, the Museum hosted historian Sarah Abrevaya Stein for a program exploring the story of the Levy family – leading publishers and editors from Thessaloniki, Greece who chronicled the experience of Sephardic Jews across the Ottoman Empire. Watch a recording of Stein’s discussion.
  • Learn About Sephardic Pioneers in North America – In November 2020, the Museum hosted a group of historians, including Jonathan Sarna, for a program exploring the stories of the Sephardic Jews who emigrated to North America in the earliest days of the colonial era. Watch a recording of the discussion.
  • Discover the FP-45 Liberator Pistol – In 1942, the U.S. Joint Psychological Warfare Committee led a secret effort to produce tiny “Liberator Pistols” and drop them by parachute over Europe–including Greece–for use by Allied resistance fighters. Read about one of these pistols in the Museum’s collection.
Legacies is made possible with a gift from Marc Kirschner in honor of Nancy Fisher.