Jonas Salk

'There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?'

October 28, 1914
June 23, 1995
Birth Place
New York, New York, United States of America
Current Place
San Diego, California, United States of America


Jonas Edward Salk was an American medical researcher and virologist. He discovered and developed the first successful inactivated polio vaccine. While attending New York University School of Medicine, Salk stood out from his peers, not just because of his academic prowess, but because he went into medical research instead of becoming a practicing physician. 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. When news of the vaccine's success was made public on April 12, 1955, Salk was hailed as a 'miracle worker,' and the day 'almost became a national holiday.' His sole focus had been to develop a safe and effective vaccine as rapidly as possible, with no interest in personal profit. In 1960, he founded the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, which is today a center for medical and scientific research.

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