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Profile of the Day: Jonas Salk

On this day in 1914, Dr. Jonas Salk was born. Salk discovered and developed the first successful polio vaccine.

Profile of the Day: Jonas Salk

Image: Jonas Salk / San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive, Flickr

Salk was born on October 28, 1914 in New York City, New York to Daniel Salk and Dora Press. His parents were Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants. Although they lacked a formal education, they encouraged Salk and his siblings to pursue their education. A gifted student, Salk earned his medical degree at New York University in 1939.

In 1947, Salk began working in his own lab at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. It was there that he first began studying the polio virus. Polio was considered one of the most frightening public health problems of the postwar era. Each year saw thousands of cases of the disease and a majority of the victims were children. Many would be left with mild to disabling paralysis. By 1952, Salk had developed a vaccine to fight against the disease and began human testing. On April 12, 1955, Salk announced to the world that his vaccine was “safe and effective.”

Explore Jonas Salk’s family tree on Geni and share how you’re connected to the groundbreaking scientist.

View Jonas Salk’s Geni Profile


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