Jonas Salk Legacy Exhibit at Pitt Public Health
The Salk Legacy Exhibit is open to the public! Visit us during regular Public Health Building hours and watch for updates to our growing exhibit.
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At its peak in the 1940s and 1950s, polio was killing or paralyzing more than a half million people worldwide each year. Frequent epidemics among children led polio to become a highly feared disease. Survivors often faced lifelong consequences. In 1947, the University of Pittsburgh recruited Jonas Salk—an expert in influenza whose flu vaccine is still in use today—to develop a virus program at Pitt. For more than seven years, his team worked tirelessly to develop an effective killed-virus vaccine.
The April 12, 1955 announcement that the team's vaccine was proven to be effective was met with jubilation and called "a summit moment in history" by Newsweek. The Jonas Salk Legacy Exhibit at Pitt Public Health celebrates this public health milestone and achievement of Salk and his Pitt team.
"I look upon ourselves at PARTNERS in all of this, and that each of us contributes and does what he can do BEST." - Jonas Salk
Thousands of Pittsburgh-area children and their parents helped Salk an his team refine their vaccine ingredients from experimental mixture to lifesaving disease prevention. Data collected from the Pittsburgh school polio vaccine studies (1952 to early 1954) formed the basis of the definitive 1954 clinical trial that involved 1.8 million children across the United States.
Thousands of people with polio relied on tank respirators. The iron lung stands as a symbol of the countless lives saved by public health initiatives like vaccination programs.
We are proud to welcome Salk's desk home to Pittsburgh and invite you to take a seat there, below his many awards, in search of your own inspiration.
Visit the free exhibit for much more!