Of note, soon after the Salk vaccine was announced, the U.S. government suspended mass immunization for several weeks when several bad vaccine batches were found to have caused more than 200 cases of polio. Because of the delay, Boston suffered the worst polio epidemic in its history that summer one of the hottest on record -- despite the crucial virus research done there.
The April 9th event will recount the history of polio, give a survivor's perspective (that of Tenley Albright, MD, a Harvard surgeon and Olympic Gold Medalist), address polio's hidden aftermath, and look at virology then and now. Artifacts, photographs, news clips, a 1950s polio training film, and excerpts from Spaulding's Polio Oral History Project will be on view.
The event will be held from 2-5 p.m. at The Conference Center at Harvard Medical School, 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur, Boston. An RSVP is required to attend as space is limited.
BACKGROUND ON POLIO AND THE VACCINE
Polio vaccine: the story behind the story
Until the late 1940s, polioviruses could only be grown in nerve tissue, which is difficult to maintain, or in live monkeys. Researchers would have to infect monkeys with polio and try to deduce information about the virus, a laborious and expensive approach. In 1949, in the journal Science, John Enders, Thomas Weller, and Frederick Robbins of Children's Hospital Boston, reported the successful culture of poliovirus in quantity in a variety of tissues, earning them the 1954 Nobel Prize in Medicine.
This critical step, which enabled Salk to develop a vaccine, was accomplished on a shoestring budget in a makeshift lab. Enders and colleagues initially had no protective apparatus, had no sterile hoods for working with viruses, and had to book glassware for experiments in advance since there wasn't enough to go around. They made do by being creative: Weller purchased a $15,000 autoclave at
Contact: Nancy Fliesler
Children's Hospital Boston