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Pitt marks 50th anniversary of its Salk polio vaccine with reunion, scientific symposium

he eldest of Salk's three sons, all of whom received one of the earliest test vaccines; John Troan, former editor of the Pittsburgh Press, who as a medical reporter, closely followed the developments made in the Pitt lab; and polio survivor James Sarkett, whose strain of the virus, erroneously labeled as the "Saukett strain," was one of three used in the Salk vaccine. Those attending the event will have an opportunity to share their stories about their roles in making medical history with videographers as part of the University's effort to document that important time. Already, the University has heard from hundreds of people who have provided memories of that frightful time when polio lurked in every neighborhood, especially during the summer months. Among those who have submitted remembrances on a special web site (www.polio.pitt.edu) or sent in letters and memorabilia are children who participated in the pilot trials at local schools, who recall their fear of the long needles but their greater fear of the disease the vaccine was designed to prevent. Children not as lucky, who got polio and had been confined to hospital wards, some in total isolation from their parents, or handicapped by leg braces until they learned to walk again, have shared longer stories, including how they now cope with the effects of post-polio syndrome. Friends, neighbors and colleagues of Salk and his research team also have come forward, each providing a glimpse of what it was like to participate in medical history.

Remembering Polio: The History and Future of Vaccine Development
Monday, April 11 and Tuesday, April 12, Alumni Hall Auditorium

Speakers and topics for each day are as follows. (See www.polio.pitt.edu for exact times and biographical information on the speakers.)

April 11

  • Julius S. Youngner, Sc.D. (University of Pittsburgh) Conquering Polio: A View from the Inside
  • Charles R. Rinaldo,
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29-Mar-2005


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