Be Jonas Salk
Gentleman of the Year Nominee – 1955
According to a PBS documentary, “apart from the Atomic bomb, America’s greatest fear [in the early 1950’s] was Polio.” In 1952 58,000 cases of polio were reported in the country. As a result scientists were in a frenzy trying to find a way to prevent or cure the disease.
In 1948, while working at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Jonas Salk undertook a project to determine how many types of Polio existed. Together with his skilled research team, he devoted the next seven years of his life to trying to develop a vaccine to combat the virus. Finally, on April 12, 1955 it was announced that he had been successful. The Polio vaccine earned Salk the title of Miracle Worker. He had realized his sole focus; to develop a safe and effective vaccine as rapidly as possible, and even more, unlike so many people, he accomplished it with no interest in personal profit. When he was asked in a televised interview who owned the patent to the vaccine, Salk replied: “Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”