Jonas Salk was born in 1914 in the State of New York and really had very little formal education. He had parents that were extremely determined to see their children succeed, however, and despite the lack of formal education, Salk was accepted into the New York University School of Medicine. Salk stood out during his studies and surprised everyone when he decided to focus on medical research instead of becoming a practicing doctor.
Salk’s decision, however, would have an amazing impact on the world – one that can still be felt to this very day. Here are the inventions of Jonas Salk.
1. The Polio Vaccine
Before 1957, one of the greatest health emergencies around the world was a disease called polio. Some people could catch it and be fine, but in a small percentage of people, the disease would cause some form of paralysis or even death. In the work year of the polio outbreak, over 3,000 people died and more than 20,000 were left with some form of paralysis – most of them children.
Salk was called a miracle worker for his role in developing the vaccine that eventually led the eradication of polio as a fearful disease. The day that the vaccine’s development was made known was so special to many that it nearly became a national holiday. Although some issues remained with the vaccine, it was a better option than just catching polio and that brought parents a lot of hope.
2. AIDS Medical Developments
Jonas Salk hoped that he could bring his miracle worker status to another difficult disease that was starting to kill people in the 1970’s and 1980’s as it began to spread. AIDS, which often comes from sexual transmissions but can be obtained from a blood transfusion and other specific methods, was untreatable in its early days. Salk hoped to develop a vaccine for this disease, but failed in that quest. His research, however, was foundational in creating the medicines that help to extend and normalize the lives of those who have HIV or AIDS.
Salk is also referred to as the Father of Biophilosophy, a term first coined by the New York Times in 1966. The ideas that Salk had were based on a personal perception that science and philosophy deserved to be working hand in hand with each other instead of providing counterpoints to each other. His hope was that he could bring a scientific, evolutionary view to psychological, social, and even cultural problems so that everyone from any background could benefit from the advancements that would take place in both fields.
Although Salk passed away in 1995, his contributions to the field of medicine will always be remembered. His polio vaccine helped to move the world away from fear in a very specific way and many will continuously be grateful for his work.
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