March Of Dimes Celebrates Salk Vaccine Anniversary And 75 Years Of Research And Breakthroughs
NEW YORK, April 12, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- This date in 1955 will forever be remembered as the day epidemic polio, "the killer, the crippler" disease, began losing its grip, historians say. Today, the March of Dimes celebrates the Salk polio vaccine and other significant research and medical breakthroughs for the health of babies and children over the past 75 years.
"My father was committed to his research and was forever grateful to the March of Dimes for funding and believing in his work," says Peter L. Salk, MD, president of the Jonas Salk Legacy Foundation, a physician and medical researcher and the eldest son of Dr. Jonas Salk. "I'm pleased that the March of Dimes continues to honor this day, which reminds us of the important contributions that can result from collaborative efforts for the benefit of human health on a global scale." Dr. Salk spoke today at a commemorative event for volunteers.
Founded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938 to eliminate polio, the March of Dimes provided the tools to accomplish this goal: the injected Salk vaccine in 1955 and the oral Sabin vaccine in 1962. The naturally-occurring virus causing this disease has been eliminated from the United States and the entire Western Hemisphere, and is now on the verge of being wiped off the face of the earth."Immunizations against serious, life-threatening infections developed in the 20 th century protect everyone," says Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. "They protect us from terrible diseases like polio, measles, whooping cough, rubella (German measles), and influenza. We urge parents to have their children receive their full complement of immunizations and adults to receive their booster shots." After the elimination of polio, the March of Dimes widened its focus to support research, education, vaccines and breakthroughs for the prevention of birth defects, infant mortality and preterm birth. Some of the live-saving research and breakthroughs supported by the March of Dimes include:
- Identification of the double helix structure of DNA, which paved the way for mapping of the human genome;
- Development of the first newborn screening test, PKU (phenylketonuria), allowing prevention of intellectual disabilities caused by PKU through diet;
- Surfactant therapy to help premature babies breathe:
- Folic acid awareness and fortification to prevent serious birth defects of the brain and spine.
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