Jonas Salk was born October 28, 1914, in New York City. Jonas Salk was one of the leading scientists of the twentieth century and the creator of the first polio vaccine. He grew up poor in New York City, where his father worked in the garment district. Education was very important to his parents, and they encouraged him to apply himself to his studies.
After graduating from high school, Salk attended the City College of New York, where he earned a bachelor's degree in science. He went on to earn his M.D. from New York University in 1939. Salk interned at Mount Sinai Hospital for two years and then earned a fellowship to University of Michigan, where he studied flu viruses with Dr. Thomas Francis Jr.
In 1947, Salk took a position at University of Pittsburgh, where he began conducting research on polio, also known as infantile paralysis. By 1951, Salk had determined that there were three distinct types of polio viruses and was able to develop a "killed virus" vaccine for the disease. The vaccine used polio viruses that had been grown in a laboratory and then destroyed.
Preliminary testing of the polio vaccine began in 1952. The testing expanded over the next two years, making it one of the largest clinical trials in medical history. Roughly 2 million children were given the vaccine during the test phase. Salk's efforts were supported and promoted by the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis and its president Basil O'Connor. When the vaccine was approved for general use in 1955, Salk became a national hero. President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave him a special citation at a ceremony held in the Rose Garden at the White House. On April 12, 1955, the vaccine was released for use in the United States. He established the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in 1963. Salk died in 1995.
(Excerpts of material from http://www.biography.com/people/jonas-salk-9470147#personal-life)
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