October 28, 1914
June 23, 1995
Place of Birth:
New York, New York
Jonas Salk is credited as having developed the first vaccine for the deadly crippling disease called polio.
His parents encouraged their children to succeed and, at 12, Salk became a student in a high school for the gifted.
Salk was a good student who excelled in his subjects and after graduation entered the
City College of New York
While at CCNY, Salk discovered he had a new interest in medicine, especially that of a research nature.
He took courses that were necessary for entrance to medical school and he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree.
Salk entered the Medical School of New York University and part of his program consisted of one year of studying influenza.
Following graduation from NYU, Salk took up his residence at Mount Sinai Hospital where, in addition to researching, he demonstrated skills as a clinician and a surgeon.
Salk was also showing he had leadership skills as he became the spokesman for his fellow Jews who warned of Hitler.
After completing his term at Medical School, Salk joined Dr. Thomas Francis at the University of Michigan where he continued his studies of influenza.
Some feel his work studying the influenza virus helped Salk in his later work in finding a cure for polio.
Salk accepted a position at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School in 1947 and began researching a cure for polio.
At the time, most microbiologists were using "live" vaccines to effect a cure but Salk decided to work with a "killed" vaccine.
Sometimes a "live" vaccine, when tested on humans, infected individuals with polio and Salk felt this method was unreliable.
After several years of research and testing on animals, Salk felt it time to do a full scale test with his vaccine using humans.
In 1954, nearly two million children were subject to being tested with the Salk vaccine and a year later, it was concluded the test was successful.
Jonas Salk was hailed the world over for his polio cure and, to make its distribution faster, refused to patent his vaccine.
For detailed research and more information, check out the following:
Academy of Achievement
Encyclopedia of World Biography
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Last Updated: January 22, 2017
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