Dr. Jonas Salk
Inventor of the Polio Vaccine
While there is still no actual cure for Polio, thanks to inventor Dr. Jonas Salk there is a way to prevent it. Before Salk invented the vaccine for Polio, America was forced to live in fear of the infectious viral disease that put Franklin Roosevelt in a wheelchair.
Polio attacks the nerve cells and sometimes the central nervous system, which can cause paralysis or even death. After being appointed head of the Virus Research Lab at the University of Pittsburgh in 1947, Dr. Jonas Salk devoted himself to finding a way to curb the devastating virus. Less than five years later, he invented a vaccine and decided to test it out.
After working successfully on a sample group that included Salk, his wife and their three sons, a nationwide testing of the vaccine was launched in April 1954. The impact was dramatic: in 1955 there were 28,985 cases of polio in the U.S. and by 1957 that number had decreased to 5,894.
Since he wanted it to be distributed freely to everyone, Dr. Jonas Salk never patented his polio vaccine. Though an oral vaccine developed by Dr. Albert Sabin gained popularity in the early 1960s, Salk's vaccine is now returning to favor because of its lowered risk factor. Today, in the U.S., cases of polio are extremely rare and The World Health Organization hopes the disease will be eradicated worldwide in the near future.
Of course, that didn't stop inventor Dr. Jonas Salk from keeping busy – his last years were spent searching for a vaccine to combat AIDS.