Jonas Salk, October 28, 1914 - June 23, 1995
Jonas Salk was born in New York City on October 28, 1914. He was the first member of his family to go to college, attending the City College of New York. He was intending to study law, but soon became intrigued by medical science.
While attending medical school at New York University, Salk was invited to spend a year researching influenza. The virus that causes flu had only recently been discovered and Salk was eager to learn if the virus could be deprived of its ability to infect, while still giving immunity to the illness. Salk succeeded in this attempt, which became the basis of his later work on polio. After completing medical school and his internship, Salk returned to the study of influenza. In 1947, Salk accepted an appointment to the University of Pittsburgh Medical School. He worked specifically for the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, where an opportunity arose to develop a vaccine against polio, and Salk devoted himself to this work for the next eight years.
In 1955, Salk's years of research finally culminated. Human trials of the polio vaccine effectively protected the subject from the polio virus. When news of the discovery was made public on April 12, 1955, Salk was hailed as a miracle worker. He further endeared himself to the public by refusing to patent the vaccine. In countries where Salk's vaccine has remained in use, the disease has been virtually eradicated.
In 1963, Salk founded the Jonas Salk Institute for Biological Studies, an innovative center for medical and scientific research. Salk continued to conduct research and publish books, some written in collaboration with one or more of his sons, who are also medical scientists. Salk's published books include "Man Unfolding," published in 1972, "The Survival of the Wisest" published in 1973, "World Population and Human Values: A New Reality" published in 1981, and "Anatomy of Reality" published in 1983.