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An introduction to the life of jonas salk

All it took was a polio outbreak. In the first half of the 20th century, few measures were considered too extreme to stop the spread of a virus that killed some people and permanently paralyzed others, all in a seemingly random way.

Celebrating Jonas Salk

The fear was palpable. During outbreaks, people hid in their homes and asked: The Salk Institute was founded in 1960 by Jonas Salk, who developed the polio vaccine. Wikipedia Commons Relief came in 1955 with word that researcher Jonas Salk had overcome his doubters and developed the first safe, effective polio vaccine in testing that included his wife and three sons.

Cases of polio soon plunged. Later, with the help of a second vaccine by a different researcher, the disease disappeared in most of the world. The transformation is still regarded as one of the greatest medical achievements in history. The man behind the science For Salk, it was the opening act of an extraordinary and varied life that began with his birth 100 years ago next Tuesday — an anniversary that is being celebrated from San Diego to New York.

Jonas Salk, at his institute.

Jonas Salk (1914-95)

Celebrations also have or will be held at the University of Pittsburghwhere Salk developed his injectible polio vaccine; City College of New York, where he went to school; and New York Universitywhere he earned his medical degree. He defied conventional thinking about the design of vaccines, but refused to defend himself publicly when criticized by fellow scientists about his approach.

He was usually cautious and pragmatic, but began constructing the institute without enough money to finish it. He was passionate about ideas, yet spoke in a dull monotone. He was a freethinker who lived a scripted life. The elder Salk ceaselessly put his thoughts on paper, even as he was dying of heart disease. Postal Service was beginning to use automobiles to deliver the mail.

They were poorly educated; Dora could not read English. The Salk family from left: Jonas, Dora, Lee, Daniel and Herman. It was something of a positive. He shot through a high school for exceptional students and enrolled at City College of New York at age 15. He flirted with the idea of becoming a lawyer, but was soon drawn to medical research. While at New York University, he met researcher Thomas Francis, who set his mind on fire with ideas about fighting infectious diseases.

Such vaccines are created by an introduction to the life of jonas salk killing the virus, then injecting it into a person, where it produces immunity. Their approach challenged scientific dogma. The vast majority of researchers believed it was the only effective way to generate immunity.

Jonas Salk's polio vaccine is shown in April, 1955. AP Photo Both types of vaccines were tested in humans in 1935 in an attempt to stop polio. And both were quickly abandoned after some recipients died or became paralyzed. Scientists fared better in helping people whose ability to breathe was impaired by polio. They also were a scary symbol of the times. Infectious diseases such as tuberculosis killed far more people. But the fear of polio has few parallels in American history, largely because of its disproportionate impact on children.

People also were afraid because scientists struggled to figure out basic things about the disease, including why children were more likely to contract polio than adults, or why it seemed to spike in the summer. In other cases, a person experiences a non-paralytic form of polio that causes symptoms such as fever, headaches and stiffness in the back or neck. In about one in 200 cases, polio results in full or partial paralysis, depending on how the virus affects the central nervous system.

Biography review: ‘Jonas Salk: A Life,’ by Charlotte DeCroes Jacobs

The symptoms can include muscle ache and weakness. Polio cost Franklin Delano Roosevelt the use of his legs. National Archives Franklin Delano Roosevelt had both when he developed polio in 1921, at age 39.

He permanently lost the use of his legs. Roosevelt later became president, and he dealt forcefully with polio, creating the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis to raise money for research and treatment. The foundation, now called the March of Dimesevolved into a fundraising giant that supported scores of scientists. The beneficiaries included Salk, who pursued a killed-virus vaccine, and his emerging adversary, Albert Sabin, who thought a live-virus method was the way to go.

The figure was down from 25,000 a year earlier, but the incidence of polio would drop only to rise again in outbreaks that caused panic. Entire towns were quarantined. Many people stopped shaking hands for fear of catching the virus. Couples expecting babies took out polio insurance on their unborn children.

  1. Most universities were walled off into departments. National Archives Franklin Delano Roosevelt had both when he developed polio in 1921, at age 39.
  2. People also were afraid because scientists struggled to figure out basic things about the disease, including why children were more likely to contract polio than adults, or why it seemed to spike in the summer. Celebrations also have or will be held at the University of Pittsburgh , where Salk developed his injectible polio vaccine; City College of New York, where he went to school; and New York University , where he earned his medical degree.
  3. Entire towns were quarantined.

Amid the tumult, scientific progress was being made against the disease. Salk helped to confirm that there were three strains of polio, which was crucial to creating a broadly effective vaccine. He then developed a killed-virus preparation that showed promising results in monkeys. Salk made the leap to initial human trials in 1952, administering the vaccine to children at the D.

Watson Home for Crippled Children outside of Pittsburgh. Again, the results were promising. Salk also used the vaccine on himself and the rest of his family.

  • They also were a scary symbol of the times;
  • At 40, Salk was the most famous scientist alive;
  • Salk helped to confirm that there were three strains of polio, which was crucial to creating a broadly effective vaccine;
  • He was a freethinker who lived a scripted life;
  • The vaccine went into wide use and reduced polio cases by 97 percent by the early 1960s.

Sabin, among others, lobbied against using the vaccine in national field trials. He lost the battle; clinical trials began in 1954 and involved an unprecedented 1.

Newsboys screamed the breakthroughs as they sold papers. The vaccine went into wide use and reduced polio cases by 97 percent by the early 1960s. Decades later, the government went back to using the killed-virus, citing its safeness. Salk refused to respond. The lingering enmity that some scientists harbored toward Jonas Salk came at a price. Murrow, who told him: You have lost your anonymity. At 40, Salk was the most famous scientist alive.

  1. At 40, Salk was the most famous scientist alive. National Archives Franklin Delano Roosevelt had both when he developed polio in 1921, at age 39.
  2. In the first half of the 20th century, few measures were considered too extreme to stop the spread of a virus that killed some people and permanently paralyzed others, all in a seemingly random way. The two men would end up fighting over the specific site, but in 1960, Salk said yes.
  3. Entire towns were quarantined. But Salk pressed ahead, believing that more support would come if he recruited renowned figures, which he did.
  4. They also were a scary symbol of the times.
  5. He loved this place.

Salk was soon sketching plans for a research institute that would explore not only fundamental biology but also the human condition. Most universities were walled off into departments. Salk presented his idea to the University of Pittsburgh, hoping it would provide space and money.

Roger Revelle swooped in, pulling off a recruiting coup that stunned the science world. Revelle sent word to Salk that La Jolla would be a great place for his institute, and that he might be able to build it on free public land — on a windswept bluff overlooking the Pacific.

Celebrating Jonas Salk's 'big life'

The two men would end up fighting over the specific site, but in 1960, Salk said yes. His decision would help put La Jolla on the map. But Salk pressed ahead, believing that more support would come if he recruited renowned figures, which he did. They included virologist Renato Dulbecco, who would win the Nobel Prize in 1975. Talent drew talent and, over time, money.

Ultimately, though, funding never materialized to hire large numbers of scholars in the humanities. He loved this place. The elder Salk discovered and developed the first successful inactivated polio vaccine.