April 4, 2005

"Thank you, Dr. Salk" celebration will recognize 50th anniversary of polio vaccine at the La Jolla research institute founded by Jonas Salk

Salk News

“Thank you, Dr. Salk” celebration will recognize 50th anniversary of polio vaccine at the La Jolla research institute founded by Jonas Salk

La Jolla, CA – On the morning of April 12, jhundreds of Salk scientists, graduate students and staff will begin their day at the Institute by celebrating the 50th anniversary of the vaccine that has saved them – and millions of others – from becoming crippled or dying from poliomyelitis or polio.

The Salk Institute has named its celebration, “Thank you, Dr. Salk,” because these words were written on the many hand-made signs posted in store windows throughout the United States in response to the dramatic April 12, 1955 announcement in Michigan that the polio vaccine developed by Jonas E. Salk, M.D., was safe and effective.

The nationwide celebration’s centerpiece will be the Smithsonian exhibit, titled, “Whatever Happened to Polio?”. Scheduled to open on April 12, the exhibit is co-sponsored by the March of Dimes, Rotary International as well as the Salk Institute.

“Jonas Salk never profited from the many years of hard work that he dedicated to developing the polio vaccine,” said Richard A. Murphy, Ph.D., the Institute’s president and CEO.

Instead, Salk leveraged his fame and celebrity to assemble some of the greatest minds in science to found in 1960 the basic research institute that today bears his name. In 1965, just 10 years after developing Salk developed the polio vaccine, the Institute’s lab facilities – designed by the famous architect Louis Kahn -opened their doors.

Referring to Salk’s continued dedication to helping humanity, Murphy recalled a comment that Salk frequently made: “Doing good is an opportunity to do more. “

“Thanks to Jonas Salk, there are millions of people alive and well today because his vaccine halted the spread of polio in much of the world,” noted Murphy.

“With his solution to polio and his vision for vaccinating every person in each corner of the world, Jonas Salk changed for all time the way we look at both public health and the value of fundamental scientific research,” added Murphy.

Home to 11 Nobel Laureates since its founding, the Salk Institute is a world leader in basic research on the biological principles governing life at all levels, from the individual cell to an entire population.


The 50th anniversary celebration at Salk Institute will begin in the auditorium at 9:30 A.M. Tuesday, April 12. Speaking will be Richard Murphy, president and CEO, Salk Institute, and Kathleen Murray, Jonas Salk’s former assistant. Archival footage of the impact of polio on the population and of Salk will be shown.

At about 9:45 a.m., the Salk community will convene on the ocean-view Gildred Court to celebrate the Institute’s founder by wearing t-shirts that read, “Thank you, Dr. Salk.”

The news media is invited to attend.
Contact: Jan Percival,

or Cathy Yarbrough
858-453-4100, x1290

Tours are given at the Salk Institute daily. To arrange a free tour, please contact 858.453.4100 extension 1287. Reservations for weekend tours must be made in advance, no later than Friday.

Media materials available (contact March of Dimes):

Video (DVD format): Historical footage from the 1950s
Video (DVD format): Interview with Jonas Salk at 40th anniversary of polio vaccine
Photographs: B&W historical images

For More Information

Office of Communications
Tel: (858) 453-4100

Connect With Us