Reading the article “Carbohydrate Vaccines”, published in Chemical & Engineering News on August 9, 2004, Dr. Bego Gerber was appalled that there was an outstanding vaccine against typhoid fever sitting on the shelf unutilized at the National Institutes of Health while as many as 21 million people around the world have this terrible disease. This prompted a letter to the editor suggesting the creation of Chemists Without Borders to bring an end to such maldistribution.

Dr. Steven Chambreau responded to this letter, and although the pair had never met, they decided to pursue the development of Chemists Without Borders as a global humanitarian organization to utilize chemistry and mobilize chemists and their networks to solve humanitarian challenges.