Medical researcher Dr. Jonas Salk (1914-1995), born in New York City, was 39 when he discovered the vaccine for Poliomyelitis, known as infantile paralysis, or polio.
Having developed an earlier vaccine for influenza, Salk discovered one for polio which stimulated immunity without causing symptoms.
"It is always with excitement that I wake up in the morning wondering what my intuition will toss up to me, like gifts from the sea. I work with it and rely on it. It's my partner," said Salk who believed his purpose in life was to heal.
As the first human recipient of the polio vaccine, a decision he called "ritual and symbolic," the brilliant doctor was hailed as a modern miracle worker. He said, "The painful paradoxes of life seem to be so unnecessary. I think that we have an instinct, an impulse to improve our world. And I think that's quite universal."
For a better world, Salk suggested "enhancing the positive, improving the quality of human life, the human mind, the conditions under which humans come upon the face of the earth and are given the opportunity to develop."
In 1960, Salk established the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, dedicated to the improvement of human health with research in molecular biology and genetics.
"The merging of intuition and reason will provide wisdom for the resolution of the struggle in which we are engaged," explained the dedicated doctor.
Before his death, he continued to work for life's magic by searching for an AIDS vaccine and believed a cure was possible.
He likened the discovery to the stone Michelangelo carved into David's statue. "To be unveiled and revealed, little by little... It is just a matter of time and it is just a matter of strategy," he predicted.