Polio Place

A service of Post-Polio Health International


Many researchers contributed to an understanding of the poliomyelitis virus and its control with immunizations. Preventing poliomyelitis was the focus of the work done in the first half of the Twentieth Century. Other scientists and physicians left an important legacy by developing treatments and devices during that time. 

Many people have been instrumental in improving the lives of polio's survivors - the people for whom the vaccine was too late. 

Explore the lives of these notable individuals. 

John E. Affeldt, MD Thomas Francis, Jr., MD Isabel Merrick Morgan, PhD
Augusta Alba, MD Paul R. Harrington, MD Mark O'Brien
David Bodian PhD, MD Judith E. Heumann Basil O'Connor
Charles H. Bynum Dorothy M. Horstmann, MD John Rodman Paul, MD
Victor J. Cabasso, DSc Florence Peterson Kendall Jacquelin Perry, MD
Justin Dart, Jr. Sister Elizabeth Kenny Thomas Milton Rivers
Philip A. Drinker, PhD Ruth L. Kirschstein, MD Edward V. Roberts
Renato Dulbecco, MD Hilary Koprowski, MD Frederick C. Robbins, MD
John "Jack" Haven Emerson Karl Landsteiner, MD Franklin Delano Roosevelt
John Franklin Enders, PhD Virginia "Gini" Laurie Albert B. Sabin, MD
Leone N. Farrell, PhD Jean Macnamara, MD Jonas Salk, MD
Simon Flexner, MD Joseph Louis Melnick, PhD Mary E. Switzer
    Thomas H. Weller, MD

Frederick Chapman Robbins, MD - August 25, 1916 - August 4, 2003

Frederick C. Robbins won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1954 along with John F. Enders and Thomas H. Weller, for their discovery announced in "Cultivation of the Lansing strain of poliomyelitis virus in cultures of various human embryonic tissue" published in Science in 1949. Robbins was the senior author of the article.

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Edward Verne Roberts - January 23, 1939 - March 14, 1995

Roberts, a polio survivor, was a leader in the civil rights movement that championed the rights of people with disabilities to lead independent lives. He helped found two organizations - Center for Independent Living (1972), and the World Institute on Disability (1984). Both organizations are now located on the Ed Roberts Campus, a universally...

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Franklin Delano Roosevelt - January 30, 1882 - April 12, 1945

Contracting polio before he became the thirty-second president of the United States, Roosevelt founded two highly successful enterprises whose goal was to conquer polio. Roosevelt regularly visited a spa in Warm Springs, Georgia, starting in 1924, to benefit from the waters. In 1927, he established the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation to fund the...

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Albert Bruce Sabin, MD - August 26, 1906 - March 3, 1993

Albert Sabin developed the widely-used, oral, attenuated ("live") poliovirus vaccine (OPV). A form of the oral attenuated vaccine is used today in the worldwide effort to eradicate acute poliomyelitis. However, some countries including the United States, recommend the IPV (inactivated polio vaccine).

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Jonas Salk, MD - October 28, 1914 - June 23, 1995

Jonas Salk is known best as the developer of the first successful vaccine against poliomyelitis. The vaccine contains inactivated ("killed") poliovirus and is given by injection.

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Mary Elizabeth Switzer - February 16, 1900 - October 16, 1971

Mary Elizabeth Switzer was an American public administrator and social reformer. She worked within the federal bureaucracy from 1921 to 1970. Along with Gini Laurie, Mary Switzer has been called one of the grandmothers of the “independent living movement.” She notably shaped the 1954 Vocational Rehabilitation Act, which provided a great expansion...

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Thomas Huckle Weller, MD - June 15, 1915 - August 23, 2008

Thomas Huckle Weller, along with John F. Enders and Frederick C. Robbins, was awarded a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for cultivating poliomyelitis virus in non-nervous tissue. This advance made it possible for scientists to study the virus in the laboratory, which in turn led to the development of polio vaccines.

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