Jonas Salk Facts

Jonas Salk Facts
Jonas Edward Salk (October 28, 1914 to June 23, 1995) was an American medical researcher and virologist. He worked on an influenza vaccine and developed the first successful inactivated polio vaccine.
Interesting Jonas Salk Facts:
Jonas Edward Salk was born in New York City and was the eldest of three sons born to Jewish immigrants, Daniel and Dora Salk.
In 1927 Salk entered Townsend Harris High School which was a public high school for gifted students.
The competition was stiff but most of those who made it through the rigorous courses would have the grades to enter City College of New York.
CCNY was a very academically tough environment but the tuition was free and Salk earned a B.S. in chemistry there in 1934.
Despite a shortage of first rate laboratories and libraries, during the 1930's and 1940's CCNY graduated eight future Nobel Prize winners and more PhD recipients than other university except the University of California, Berkeley.
Salk entered New York University to study medicine because the tuition was low and most of the other medical schools had rigid quotas for Jews.
While in medical school Salk became primarily interested in research and laboratory work.
In 1941 he accepted a two month research position to the University of Michigan where he worked in the virology lab with Dr. Thomas Francis.
Francis had discovered the type B influenza virus but was embroiled in a controversy after it was discovered that he deliberately infected patients in Michigan mental hospitals with influenza.
Salk did his medical residency at the prestigious Mount Sinai Hospital where he was a very skilled clinician and surgeon.
After his residency he applied for permanent research positions but again encountered Jewish quotas and many institutions.
Francis secured a research grant for Salk from the U.S. Army to work on develop an influenza vaccine and he and Francis perfected a vaccine that was widely used by the army.
Salk eventually was offered a position by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine where he could run his own laboratory.
Polio is a devastating disease and by 1952 it was claiming more victims than any other communicable disease with 58,000 cases reported that year.
Many famous Americans are among its victims, including violinist Itzhak Perlman, author Arthur C. Clark, singers Dinah Shore and Joni Mitchell, Supreme Court Justice, William O. Douglas, and nuclear physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer.
In 1948 Salk was offered a research position at the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis which had been established by polio survivor, President Franklin Roosevelt.
It took years of painstaking, tedious work but in 1954 the polio vaccine was ready for field testing and 1,800,000 school children participated in the trial.
On April 12, 1955 the results were published and the vaccine was declared safe and effective.
The announcement was made at the University of Michigan but television and newsreel cameras broadcast the exciting news to a grateful world.


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