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.
Salk was the oldest of three sons born to Dora and
Daniel B. Salk in New York City on October 28, 1914. An exceptional
student, he graduated from Townsend Harris High School, the school for the
talented and gifted, and worked his way through City College. He received
his medical degree from the College of Medicine at New York University in
June 1939. In 1942, he went to the University of Michigan, where he
developed an influenza vaccine to destroy the polio viruses.
Salk worked to develop vaccines that killed each of the
three types of polio viruses. After injecting small groups of people, Salk
announced in October 1953 that he had injected 600 people with the vaccine.
This experimental group would determine the safety of the new vaccine. The
next month, the National Foundation of Infantile Paralysis announced it was
making plans for large scale testing of Salk's vaccine.
During the next year more than a million children
received three injections for the three types of viruses. Salk also
injected himself, his wife and children. The testing proved that this was
the first answer in combating polio. The new vaccine, however, had one
drawback: booster injections had to be given periodically.
Dr. Jonas Salk died on June 23, 1995.
Sources: 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.