Born New York City
Jonas Salk built his career on developing vaccines against influenza and polio. In the 1940s he helped revolutionize immunology by developing vaccines that did not expose recipients to the disease itself. In 1947, as America confronted a polio epidemic, Salk turned to finding a vaccine for the disease, reporting successful results by 1953; by 1955 the Salk vaccine was in widespread use and dramatically diminished the impact of polio, especially among children. Salk never claimed a patent for the vaccine, asking "Could you patent the sun?"