For nearly forty years after the great epidemic of 1916, which brought panic to the city of New York and the country as a whole, parents passed summers in fear of poliomyelitis, or infantile paralysis. Little was known of the dreaded disease, except that it was seasonal, striking in summer and leaving thousands of children dead and thousands more crippled. No wonder the jubilation in 1955, both in the United States and around the world, when a vaccine developed by Jonas Salk (then on the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine) proved an effective deterrent against the disease. Honored by governments, idolized by the public, Dr. Salk fared less well at the hands of his scientific colleagues.Criticized incessantly during the early stages of his research, Salk had pursued, nevertheless, his investigations to success. After the vaccine had gained acceptance, he was nominated for both the Nobel Prize and membership in the National Academy of Science. Salk received neither award. Despite being hampered by a manufacturer's botching of early samples of the vaccine and the reluctance of the American Medical Association to sponsor mass immunizations, the "Salk Vaccine" demonstrated its worth. By 1963 the incidences of polio had declined over ninety-five percent -- surely, one of the great triumphs of medicine. In the same year the Salk Institute of Biological Studies, which today continues its researches into ways to prevent other illnesses, opened its doors at La Jolla, California.
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