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Jonas Salk (1914 – 1995)


Medical researcher and author, the inventor of the Salk vaccine against Polio, and the founder of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.
Jonas Salk
Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors.
Salk quotes
Edward R. Murrow: Who owns the patent on this vaccine?
Jonas Salk: Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?
Salk
My life is pretty well at peace, and the profession is more of an avocation. It's a calling, if you like, rather than a job. I do what I feel impelled to do, as an artist would. Scientists function in the same way. I see all these as creative activities, as all part of the process of discovery. Perhaps that's one of the characteristics of what I call the evolvers, any subset of the population who keep things moving in a positive, creative, constructive way, revealing the truth and beauty that exists in life and in nature.




Salk Jonas quotes
I see weeds and flowers. I think of it in those terms, and we have to discriminate and distinguish between the two, to recognize and encourage those human qualities and attributes that are the more positive.
Salk Jonas
There is something about human nature that has to be understood, and so I've shifted my attention from an interest in unity to an interest in creativity.
Jonas Salk quotes
I was told I could, if I wished, switch and get a Ph.D. in biochemistry but my preference was to stay with medicine. And I believe that this is all linked to my original ambition, or desire, which was to be of some help to humankind, so to speak, in a larger sense than just on a one-to-one basis. Just as I intended to study law, to make just laws, so I found myself interested now in the laws of nature, as distinct from the laws the people make.
Jonas Salk
I judge things from an evolutionary perspective "How does this serve and contribute to the process of our own evolution?" rather than think of good and evil in moral terms. I see the triumph of good over evil as a manifestation of the error-correcting process of evolution.
Salk Jonas quotes
What you see in living systems, and in genetic systems, is that the genes are already there, having arisen in the course of time, and when they are needed they become activated. If they had to be invented, the time would be too late. By the same token, I think that the people who are needed to help guide the future already exist. They simply need to recognize this in themselves, react to the opportunities that prevail, and also be valued and be encouraged. It's that very large, and as yet amorphous, rung that is of interest to me. I hope to articulate this, and see to what extent it makes sense to others as well.
Salk
My attitude was always to keep open, to keep scanning. I think that's how things work in nature. Many people are close-minded, rigid, and that's not my inclination.
Salk Jonas
I look upon ourselves as partners in all of this, and that each of us contributes and does what he can do best. And so I see not a top rung and a bottom rung I see all this horizontally and I see this as part of a matrix. And I see every human being as having a purpose, a destiny, if you like. And what my hope is that we can find some way to fulfill the biological potential, if you like the destiny that exists in each of us and find ways and means to provide such opportunities for everyone. Now at the moment the world is suffering from large numbers of people who have no purpose in life for whom there is no opportunity and that's sad.
Jonas Salk
The work of Dr. Salk is in the highest tradition of selfless and dedicated medical research. He has provided a means for the control of a dread disease. By helping scientists in other countries with technical information; by offering to them the strains of seed virus and professional aid so that the production of vaccine can be started by them everywhere; by welcoming them to his laboratory that they may gain a fuller knowledge, Dr. Salk is a benefactor of mankind.
His achievement, a credit to our entire scientific community, does honor to all the people of the United States.




Jonas Salk quotes
We were told in one lecture that it was possible to immunize against diphtheria and tetanus by the use of chemically treated toxins, or toxoids. And the following lecture, we were told that for immunization against a virus disease, you have to experience the infection, and that you could not induce immunity with the so-called "killed" or inactivated, chemically treated virus preparation. Well, somehow, that struck me. What struck me was that both statements couldn't be true. And I asked why this was so, and the answer that was given was in a sense, 'Because.' There was no satisfactory answer.
Jonas Salk
I feel that the greatest reward for success is the opportunity to do more.
Salk quotes
I already see enough evidence for this optimism in recent years I find that perhaps what Im seeking is a scientific basis for hope, and I think I've found it.
Salk Jonas
I have come to associate a kind of success that we are referring to, to individuals who have a combination of attributes that are often associated with creativity. In a way they are mutants, they are different from others. And they follow their own drummer. We know what that means. And are we all like that? We are not like that. If you are, then it would be well to recognize that there were others before you. And, people like that are not very happy or content, until they are allowed to express, or they can express what's in them to express. It's that driving force that I think is like the process of evolution working on us, and in us, and with us, and through us. That's how we continue on, and will improve our lot in life, solve the problems that arise. Partly out of necessity, partly out of this drive to improve.
Salk Jonas quotes
The first thing I would like to point out is that each of us have a different purpose that we have to serve in the evolutionary scheme of things. We are not all equally endowed to do everything. When I speak about teleological evolution, I speak about the idea of "telos," purpose.
Jonas Salk
Know what is the purpose of life that you are inclined to serve, that you are drawn to. Do what makes your heart leap rather than simply follow some style or fashion. Not everyone can or should be a scientists. Not everyone can or should be any one thing. People need to know what kind of purpose they can serve.
Jonas Salk quotes
Why do I see things differently from the way other people see them? Why do I pursue the questions that I pursue, even if others regard them as, as they say, "controversial?" Which merely means that they have a difference of opinion. They see things differently. I am interested both in nature, and in the human side of nature, and how the two can be brought together, and effectively used.
Jonas Salk
It is courage based on confidence, not daring, and it is confidence based on experience.
Salk Jonas
There are three stages of truth. First is that it can't be true, and that's what they said. You couldn't immunize against polio with a killed-virus vaccine. Second phase: they say, "Well, if it's true, it's not very important. And the third stage is, 'Well, we've known it all along."


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