“Hello” Jonas Salk Born 28 October 1914
Jonas Edward Salk (October 28, 1914 – June 23, 1995) was an American medical researcher and virologist, best known for his discovery and development of the first successful polio vaccine
Until 1955, when the Salk vaccine was introduced, polio was considered the most dangerous public health problem of the post-war United States. The 1952 epidemic was the worst outbreak in the nation’s history. Of nearly 58,000 cases reported that year, 3,145 people died and 21,269 were left with mild to disabling paralysis, with most of its victims being children. As a result, scientists were in a frantic race to find a way to prevent or cure the disease. U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt was the world’s most recognized victim of the disease and founded the organization, the March of Dimes Foundation, that would fund the development of a vaccine.
In 1947, Salk accepted an appointment to the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. In 1948, he undertook a project funded by the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis to determine the number of different types of polio virus. Salk saw an opportunity to extend this project towards developing a vaccine against polio, and, together with the skilled research team he assembled, devoted himself to this work for the next seven years. Over 1,800,000 school children took part in the field trial for the vaccine. When news of the vaccine’s success was made public on April 12, 1955, Salk was hailed as a “miracle worker. His sole focus had been to develop a safe and effective vaccine as rapidly as possible, with no interest in personal profit. When he was asked in a televised interview who owned the patent to the vaccine, Salk replied: “There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”
In 1960, he founded the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, which is today a centre for medical and scientific research. He continued to conduct research and publish books, including Man Unfolding (1972), The Survival of the Wisest(1973), World Population and Human Values: A New Reality (1981), and Anatomy of Reality: Merging of Intuition and Reason(1983). Salk’s last years were spent searching for a vaccine against HIV.