Dr. Jonas Salk (October 28, 1914 - June 23, 1995) was an American research biologist who studied immunity, influenza, AIDS and polio. He is best known, however, for the development of the polio vaccine that has nearly eradicated the threat of polio in the world today.
Jonas Salk, M.D. was inducted into the Academy of Achievement in 1976. Visit the Academy mini-site for an overview of his accomplishments, a biography, a photo gallery, and a 1991 interview. Jonas Salk was still a medical student when he began to look for answers to questions left unanswered in classroom lectures about viruses. "In 1955 Salk's years of research paid off. Human trials of the polio vaccine effectively protected the subject from the polio virus. When news of the discovery was made public on April 12, 1955, Salk was hailed as a miracle worker."
The Jonas Salk Center, representing the family of Jonas Salk, offers free educational material for
students, teachers and researchers. This page lists five documents in both HTML and PDF (for easy printing and sharing) that are free for students and teachers to use in the classroom and include in student projects. Topics covered are Legacy of Jonas Salk, Biographical Sketch, Historical Importance of the Killed Poliovirus Vaccine, Student Interviews: FAQ, and Recommended Reading.
What does every comic book need? An evil villain and a bigger-than-life hero. This online comic book (from PBS: Science Odessey) based on the true story of Dr. Salk, has them both. "Polio, the evil virus which threatens to steal the use of limbs and lungs of children and adults everywhere, is on the verge of being eradicated, thanks to the work of Dr. Jonas Salk of the University of Pittsburgh, who has just announced the development of his new vaccine."
The Salk Institute for Biological Studies was established by Dr. Salk in 1959 as a "crucible for creativity" where biologists could work together on cures and other important projects. Students should visit for the Salk biography and the Discovery Timeline that tells the story of Salk's quest for a polio vaccine. Those who live in San Diego County, will surely want to explore their summer internships for high-school students.
Follow the development of the polio vaccine ("the shot heard 'round the world") with this timeline from the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy. Polio has been attacking humans for more than 5,000 years, and was documented by Ancient Egyptians. Oddly enough, the polio threat increased in the twentieth century because improved sanitation resulted in reduced infant immunity. In 1955, when Salk's vaccine was declared safe and effective, people all over the world rejoiced. "During the first three years of widespread use of Salk's polio vaccine (1955-1957) the incidence of polio in the United States fell by 85 - 90%."