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In America in the 1950s summertime was a time of fear and anxiety for many parents this was the season when children by the thousands became infected with the crippling disease poliomyelitis or polio This burden of fear was lifted forever when it was announced that Dr Jonas Salk had developed a vaccine against the disease Salk became world-famous overnight but his discovery was the result of many years of painstaking research Jonas Salk was born in New York City His parents were Russian-Jewish immigrants who although they themselves lacked formal education were determined to see their children succeed and encouraged them to study hard Jonas Salk was the first member of his family to go to college He entered the City College of New York intending to study law but soon became intrigued by medical science While attending medical school at New York University Salk was invited to spend a year researching influenza The virus that causes flu had only recently been discovered and the young Salk was eager to learn if the virus could be deprived of its ability to infect while still giving immunity to the illness Salk succeeded in this attempt which became the basis of his later work on polio After completing medical school and his internship Salk returned to the study of influenza the flu virus World War II had begun and public health experts feared a replay of the flu epidemic that had killed millions in the wake of the First World War The development of vaccines controlled the spread of flu after the war and the epidemic of 1919 did not recur In 1947 Salk accepted an appointment to the University of Pittsburgh Medical School While working there with the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis Salk saw an opportunity to develop a vaccine against polio and devoted himself to this work for the next eight years In 1955 Salks years of research
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