Inside Salk; Salk Insitute

A history of the Salk

Suzanne Bourgeois

Suzanne Bourgeois

Suzanne Bourgeois, Professor Emeritus and founding director of Salk's Regulatory Biology Laboratory, has written a new book documenting the dynamic history of the Institute and the key players who played a part in its creation. Titled Genesis of the Salk Institute: The Epic of Its Founders, Bourgeois retells the story of how and why, born far apart, the founders of the Salk Institute eventually gathered in La Jolla in the early 1960s to create an exceptional institution.

"Jonas Salk should be recognized for two major achievements: One is the polio vaccine and the other is the Salk Institute," says Bourgeois. The new book is a personal account of the origins and early years of the Salk, and Bourgeois crafts an engaging study that draws on her involvement with the Institute since its founding and on related archives, interviews and informal conversations. "I think I'm probably the only one who has daily records of what happened," she says.

The volume discusses the people who founded the Institute and built a home for pioneering research—leading scientists of the time as well as non-scientists of stature in finance, politics, philanthropy, publishing and the humanities. The events that brought these individuals together, the historic backdrop in which they worked, their personalities, their courage and their visions, their clash of egos and their personal vanities are woven together in a rich, engaging narrative about the founding of one of the world's premier research institutions. Released last month, the book is available through University of California Press and Amazon.