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Charlotte DeCroes Jacobs on Jonas Salk
January 18 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Born in 1914 in East Harlem, Jonas Salk was just a child when poliomyelitis and then influenza devastated New York. Spared, he went on to play a major role in the prevention of both. Salk’s work on the influenza vaccine was largely unrecognized. His polio vaccine, however, catapulted him into a world of celebrity from which he could never extricate himself. When a waiting world learned on April 12, 1955, that his vaccine prevented poliomyelitis, Salk became a hero overnight. Beloved by the public, he was shunned by the scientific community. A brilliant success at age forty, Salk had half a lifetime to prove himself.
The press reported his every move: the creation of a utopia for elite scientists and humanists, considered a success in scientific circles, a private failure by Salk; attempts to cure multiple sclerosis and cancer; his pioneering work on AIDS: his divorce and marriage to Picasso’s former mistress. Who was this enigmatic man who presented a calm demeanor to the world while carrying enormous inner burdens, who loathed conflict but was surrounded by controversy, who longed to be accepted but challenged prevailing norms, who was drawn to and repelled by fame. Was Jonas Salk an American saint or a self-absorbed man who connived to assure himself a place in medical history?
This is the Synergy Periodontics and Implants Lecture
Speaker: Charlotte DeCroes Jacobs
Charlotte D. Jacobs, is the Ben and A. Jess Shenson Professor of Medicine (Emerita) at Stanford University. A graduate of the University of Rochester and Washington University School of Medicine, she spent her entire career as an oncologist at Stanford where she has engaged in teaching, cancer research, and patient care. She has served as Senior Associate Dean for Education and Student Affairs and as Director of the Clinical Cancer Center. She currently cares for veterans with cancer at the Palo Alto Veterans Medical Center.
Mid-career, Jacobs began studying biography writing. Her first biography, Henry Kaplan and the Story of Hodgkin’s Disease, published in 2010, was called one of the Best Five Books on doctors’ lives by The Wall Street Journal. Jonas Salk: A Life, published by Oxford University Press in 2015, was called “science writing at its best … a poignant and elegantly crafted look at a hero in decline” by The New York Times and “a sweeping and sympathetic narrative” by The Wall Street Journal. The biography was selected as “One of the 100 Notable Books of 2015” by editors of the New York Times Book Review.