(1906 - 1993)
Drs. Jonas E. Salk and Albert
B. Sabin were the pioneers and researchers who discovered the vaccine and
serum to combat polio, a crippling and killing disease that affected
millions of people throughout the world annually.
Sabin was born in Bialystok, Poland, on August 26, 1906, one of four
children of Tillie and Jacob Sabin. The family came to America in 1921,
settling in Paterson, New Jersey, where Sabin's father was in the silk and
manufacturing business. Early in his career, Sabin, who received his
medical degree from New York University in 1931, became interested in
polio. Many of his experiments on polio virus research were reported to the
National Foundation of Infantile Paralysis.
During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, where he
was involved with the development of a vaccine against dengue fever and the
successful vaccination of 65,000 military personnel against the Japanese
type of polio.
After the war, Sabin continued his research on polio. He developed a
vaccine that used live virus; Salk's vaccine used dead virus. Salk's new
vaccine had one drawback: booster injections had to be given periodically.
Sabin, meanwhile, had been conducting experiments on obtaining a live polio
virus pill to be taken orally since 1952. In 1955, he conducted experiments
with prisoners who had volunteered.
Sabin and his associates took the oral live viruses before conducting
experiments on select groups of people form 1955 to 1957. During this
period, Salk's vaccine was in use, but many virologists throughout the
world believed Sabin had a superior vaccine.
From 1957 to 1959, the U.S.S.R. and the other Eastern Bloc nations gave
the oral vaccine, with its advantages of oral administration and long-term
immunity, to millions of children and adults. Finally, Sabin's vaccine was
used in the United States. Sabin died on March 3, 1993.
Sources: Jewish Heroes and Heroines in America. This is one of the 150 illustrated true stories of
American heroism included in Jewish
Heroes & Heroines of America : 150 True Stories of American Jewish
Heroism, © 1996, written by Seymour "Sy" Brody of
Delray Beach, Florida, illustrated by Art Seiden of Woodmere, New York, and
published by Lifetime Books, Inc., Hollywood, FL.