Jonas Salk’s centennial celebration.
Science legend Jonas Salk is celebrated across the world for developing the first safe polio vaccine, effectively ending the epidemic that had threatened millions of lives.Nineteen years after his death, hislegacy carries on. October marks what would have been Salk’s 100th birthday, and this year, the Salk Institutecommemoratesthe centenary of its founder’s birth.
Following the announcement of the polio vaccine in 1955,Salk became impassioned with the idea of combatting global health threats through basic scientific research and collaboration. He set out on a quest to create an institution that gathered together thinkers from across fields of study in a space that supported risk taking and scientific creativity. In 1960, with the founding of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, his dream became a reality.
“He was not at all afraid to populate the Institute with scientists famous in their own right,” Greg Lemke, a Salk professor in the Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory tells Giving Back Magazine.
Within the Institute’s walls, scientists bridge disciplines of molecular, cellular, systems, behavioral and computational biology across a range of disease areas. Collaborations between Salk scientists are a direct result of the Institute’s unique culture and physical structure.
But it wasn’t only scientists that Salk wanted to educate. Passing on knowledge to help othersserve as “good ancestors” was important to him. Today, the Institute continues to communicate the importance of science outside the lab through education outreach in local schools.
The seeds Jonas Salk planted years ago are still thriving today, which is testament to his insight, his passion and his perseverance.