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Jonas Edward Salk
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Джонас Солк
Mediķis, Zinātnieks(-ce)
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Jonas Edward Salk (/sɔːlk/; October 28, 1914 – June 23, 1995) was an American medical researcher and virologist. He discovered and developed the first successful inactivated polio vaccine. He was born in New York City to Jewish parents. Although they had little formal education, his parents were determined to see their children succeed. While attending New York University School of Medicine, Salk stood out from his peers, not just because of his academic prowess, but because he went into medical research instead of becoming a practicing physician.

Until 1957, when the Salk vaccine was introduced, polio was considered the most frightening public health problem of the post-war United States. Annual epidemics were increasingly devastating. The 1952 epidemic was the worst outbreak in the nation's history. Of nearly 58,000 cases reported that year, 3,145 people died and 21,269 were left with mild to disabling paralysis, with most of its victims being children. The "public reaction was to a plague," said historian Bill O'Neal. "Citizens of urban areas were to be terrified every summer when this frightful visitor returned." According to a 2009 PBS documentary, "Apart from the atomic bomb, America's greatest fear was polio." As a result, scientists were in a frantic race to find a way to prevent or cure the disease. U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt was the world's most recognized victim of the disease and founded the organization, theMarch of Dimes Foundation, that would fund the development of a vaccine.

In 1947, Salk accepted an appointment to the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. In 1948, he undertook a project funded by the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis to determine the number of different types of polio virus. Salk saw an opportunity to extend this project towards developing a vaccine against polio, and, together with the skilled research team he assembled, devoted himself to this work for the next seven years. The field trial set up to test the Salk vaccine was, according to O'Neill, "the most elaborate program of its kind in history, involving 20,000 physicians and public health officers, 64,000 school personnel, and 220,000 volunteers." Over 1,800,000 school children took part in the trial. When news of the vaccine's success was made public on April 12, 1955, Salk was hailed as a "miracle worker" and the day almost became a national holiday. His sole focus had been to develop a safe and effective vaccine as rapidly as possible, with no interest in personal profit. When asked who owned the patent to it, Salk said "There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?" The vaccine is calculated to be worth $7 billion had it been patented.

In 1960, he founded the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla,California, which is today a center for medical and scientific research. He continued to conduct research and publish books, including Man Unfolding (1972), The Survival of the Wisest (1973),World Population and Human Values: A New Reality (1981), and Anatomy of Reality: Merging of Intuition and Reason(1983). Salk's last years were spent searching for a vaccine against HIV. His personal papers are stored at the University of California, San Diego Library.

Early days

Jonas Salk was born in New York City on October 28, 1914. His parents, Daniel and Dora (Press) Salk, were from Jewish immigrant families, and had not received extensive formal education. According to historian David Oshinsky, Salk grew up in the "Jewish immigrant culture" of New York. He had two younger brothers, Herman and Lee, a child psychologist. The family moved from East Harlem to the Bronx, with some time spent in Queens.


High school

When he was 13, Salk entered Townsend Harris High School, a public school for intellectually gifted students. Named after the founder of City College of New York (CCNY), it was, said Oshinsky, "a launching pad for the talented sons of immigrant parents who lacked the money—and pedigree—to attend a top private school." In high school "he was known as a perfectionist . . . who read everything he could lay his hands on," according to one of his fellow students. Students had to cram a four-year curriculum into just three years. As a result, most dropped out or flunked out, despite the school's motto "study, study, study." Of the students who graduated, however, most would have the grades to enroll in CCNY, noted for being a highly competitive college.


Salk enrolled in City College of New York from which he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1934. Oshinsky writes that "for working-class immigrant families, City College represented the apex of public higher education. Getting in was tough, but tuition was free. Competition was intense, but the rules were fairly applied. No one got an advantage based on an accident of birth."[11]

At his mother's urging, he put aside aspirations of becoming a lawyer, and instead concentrated on classes necessary for admission to medical school. However, according to Oshinsky, the facilities at City College were "barely second rate." There were no research laboratories. The library was inadequate. The faculty contained few noted scholars. "What made the place special," he writes, "was the student body that had fought so hard to get there ... driven by their parents... From these ranks, of the 1930s and 1940s, emerged a wealth of intellectual talent, including more Nobel Prize winners—eight—and PhD recipients than any other public college except the University of California at Berkeley." Salk entered City College at the age of 15, a "common age for a freshman who had skipped multiple grades along the way."

As a child, Salk did not show any interest in medicine or science in general. He said in an interview with the Academy of Achievement[12] "As a child I was not interested in science. I was merely interested in things human, the human side of nature, if you like, and I continue to be interested in that."

Medical school

According to Oshinsky, NYU based its modest reputation on famous alumni, such as Walter Reed, who helped conqueryellow fever. Tuition was "comparatively low, better still, it did not discriminate against Jews, . . . while most of the surrounding medical schools—Cornell, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale—had rigid quotas in place." Yale, for example, accepted 76 applicants, in 1935, out of a pool of 501. Although 200 of the applicants were Jewish, only five got in.[11]:98

During Salk's years at the New York University School of Medicine, he stood out from his peers, according to Bookchin, "not just because of his continued academic prowess—he was Alpha Omega Alpha, the Phi Beta Kappa Society of medical education—but because he had decided he did not want to practice medicine." Instead, he became absorbed in research, even taking a year off to study biochemistry. He later focused more of his studies on bacteriology which had replaced medicine as his primary interest. He said his desire was to help humankind in general rather than single patients. And as Oshinsky writes, "it was the laboratory work, in particular, that gave new direction to his life."

According to Salk: "My intention was to go to medical school, and then become a medical scientist. I did not intend to practice medicine, although in medical school, and in my internship, I did all the things that were necessary to qualify me in that regard. I had opportunities along the way to drop the idea of medicine and go into science. At one point at the end of my first year of medical school, I received an opportunity to spend a year in research and teaching in biochemistry, which I did. And at the end of that year, I was told that I could, if I wished, switch and get a Ph.D. in biochemistry but my preference was to stay with medicine. And, I believe that this is all linked to my original ambition, or desire, which was to be of some help to humankind, so to speak, in a larger sense than just on a one-to-one basis."

Personal life

The day after his graduation from medical school, Salk married Donna Lindsay, a master's candidate at the New York College of Social Work. David Oshinsky writes that her father, Elmer Lindsay, "a wealthy Manhattan dentist, viewed Salk as a social inferior, several cuts below Donna's former suitors." Eventually, her father agreed to the marriage on two conditions: first, Salk must wait until he could be listed as an official M.D. on the wedding invitations, and second, he must improve his "rather pedestrian status" by giving himself a middle name."

They had three children: Peter, Darrell, and Jonathan Salk. In 1968, they divorced, and in 1970, Salk married Françoise Gilot, the former mistress of Pablo Picasso.

Jonas Salk died from heart failure at the age of 80 on June 23, 1995, in La Jolla and was buried at El Camino Memorial Park in San Diego.

Avoti: wikipedia.org

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