Birth Centenary Of Jonas Salk --- The Man Who Developed Polio Vaccine And Refused To Patent It
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Posted 28 October 2014 - 09:48 PM
Jonas Salk was born October 28, 1914, in New York City. In 1942 at the University of Michigan School of Public Health he became part of a group that was working to develop a vaccine against the flu. In 1947 he became head of the Virus Research Lab at the University of Pittsburgh. At Pittsburgh he began research on polio. On April 12, 1955, the vaccine was released for use in the United States. He established the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in 1963. Salk died in 1995.
Born in New York City on October 28, 1914, Jonas Salk was one of the leading scientists of the twentieth century and the creator of the first polio vaccine. He grew up poor in New York City, where his father worked in the garment district. Education was very important to his parents, and they encouraged him to apply himself to his studies.
After graduating from high school, Salk attended the City College of New York, where he earned a bachelor's degree in science. He went on to earn his M.D. from New York University in 1939. Salk interned at Mount Sinai Hospital for two years and then earned a fellowship to University of Michigan, where he studied flu viruses with Dr. Thomas Francis Jr.
In 1947, Salk took a position at University of Pittsburgh, where he began conducting research on polio, also known as infantile paralysis. By 1951, Salk had determined that there were three distinct types of polio viruses and was able to develop a "killed virus" vaccine for the disease. The vaccine used polio viruses that had been grown in a laboratory and then destroyed.
Preliminary testing of the polio vaccine began in 1952. The testing expanded over the next two years, making it one of the largest clinical trials in medical history. Roughly 2 million children were given the vaccine during the test phase. Salk's efforts were supported and promoted by the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis and its president Basil O'Connor. When the vaccine was approved for general use in 1955, Salk became a national hero. President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave him a special citation at a ceremony held in the Rose Garden at the White House.
In its first few years, the vaccine had a remarkable impact on the number of new cases of polio reported. There were more than 57,000 cases in the United States in 1952, according to the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. A decade later, that number fell to less than a thousand. The Salk vaccine was replaced with a live virus vaccine developed by Albert Sabin around this time because it was less expensive and easier to use.
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