For ages, polio had devastated mankind, killing or crippling millions of victims all over the world.
No-one knew what caused polio or how to cure it, but everyone knew of victims and feared they or their children could be next.
One famous victim was U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who in 1936 authorized the funding of what is now called the March of Dimes Foundation; hoping scientists would find a cure.
One of those scientists was Dr. Jonas Salk (1914 - 1995), at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
Dr. Salk assembled a top research team, and for the next seven years, he and that team devoted themselves to finding a cure for polio, sometimes working 16 hour days, seven days a week.
Then on April 12th, 1955 there was a stunning announcement.
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Dr. Salk announced they had identified the polio viruses and had a vaccine to kill those viruses.
This incredible announcement was quickly broadcast across the globe, and every nation wanted this vaccine.
It was the chance of a lifetime for Dr. Salk to become extremely rich. But he did something that stunned the world almost as much as his vaccine did.
He refused to patent his vaccine.
Instead, Dr. Salk offered the vaccine to everyone hoping vaccine manufacturers would produce it in massive quantities to immunize people everywhere, which is what happened.
For the rest of Dr. Salk's life, he received awards and widespread recognition, but this was not his greatest reward.
Aside from rescuing so many people from the horrors of polio, his greatest reward was the creation of the non-profit Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California in 1960.
The March of Dimes provided the initial funding,
Today, the Salk Institute has 850 researchers as it seeks cures for cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease and HIV/AIDS.
In the spirit of Dr. Salk the institute hopes for breakthroughs as profound as when Dr. Salk and his team killed the polio virus those many years ago.