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Postal Service To Issue New Stamps Honoring Dr. Jonas Salk And Dr. Albert Sabin


March 9, 2006, WASHINGTON, DC-Two of the most esteemed scientists in the world, Dr. Jonas Salk and Dr. Albert Sabin, were honored today with postage stamps as part of the Distinguished Americans series. For their dedication to fighting polio and other infectious diseases, Salk and Sabin received numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom (Salk in 1977, Sabin in 1986) and the National Medal of Science (Sabin in 1970). Salk is depicted on the 63-cent stamp, the rate for two-ounce First-Class mail, and Sabin on the 87-cent stamp, the three-ounce First-Class rate.

Periodic outbreaks of paralytic poliomyelitis, a worldwide viral disease, (also called infantile paralysis or simply “polio”) paralyzed or killed thousands of people annually in the United States alone. In 1955, Dr. Salk developed a killed-virus vaccine that was administered by injection. Five years later, Dr. Sabin developed a live-virus vaccine which could be taken orally. Both vaccines are highly effective and are responsible for the eradication of polio in the United States and, subsequently, the rest of the Americas and Europe.

Artist Mark Summers, of Waterdown, Ontario, Canada, created the portraits on the stamps. For Dr. Salk, he referred to a photograph (courtesy of the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation) taken in the Virus Research Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh in October 1954. At the time of the photograph, Dr. Salk was checking the results of a polio test. For Dr. Sabin’s portrait, Summers referred to a photograph taken in 1982 at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Summers is well known for his scratchboard technique, a style distinguished by a dense network of horizontal lines etched with exquisite precision. He also created stamp art for the other issuances in the Distinguished Americans series: Joseph W. Stilwell (2000), Claude Pepper (2000), Hattie W. Caraway (2001), Edna Ferber (2002) and Wilma Rudolph (2004).

Dr. Jonas Salk (1914-1995)
Jonas Salk was born in New York City on October 28, 1914. “I think I was curious from the earliest age on,” he told an interviewer in 1991, while noting that his interest in medical science came later, after he enrolled at the City College of New York. In 1939, Salk received his M.D. degree from New York University College of Medicine. He interned at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital (1940-42) and then accepted a research position at the University of Michigan. There he helped develop the first effective influenza vaccine, which was made from inactivated (killed) viruses and is still the basis of all “flu shots” given today.

In 1947, Dr. Salk left Michigan to direct the Virus Research Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh. While there, he began studies funded by the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis to classify one hundred different strains of poliovirus and determine the exact number of poliovirus types, information necessary to develop any successful vaccine.

Dr. Salk and his Pittsburgh colleagues went on to develop an injectable, killed-virus vaccine whose safety and effectiveness were demonstrated in a nationwide field trial in 1954. The results were reported and the vaccine was licensed for general use on April 12, 1955, the tenth anniversary of the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had been stricken by polio in 1921. The world hailed Dr. Salk as a hero. President Dwight D. Eisenhower called him a “benefactor of mankind,” and the U.S. Congress awarded him the Congressional Gold Medal.

In the years following the polio vaccine success, Dr. Salk turned his attention to other challenges, making additional contributions in the fields of biology, medicine, philosophy and even architecture. In 1963, he founded the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, as a place to bring together scientists and other scholars who, though trained in different disciplines, shared common interests in science, in the human implications of scientific work and in the well-being of humankind.

Dr. Salk pursued studies of multiple sclerosis and cancer, helped develop a killed poliovirus vaccine in the 1970s that is effective in a single dose, and worked in the 1980s and 1990s to develop an AIDS vaccine. He shared his thoughts about the present condition and future potential of humanity in four books: “Man Unfolding”; “The Survival of the Wisest”; “World Population and Human Values: A New Reality” (with co-author Jonathan Salk); and “Anatomy of Reality: Merging of Intuition and Reason.” He wrote many articles and continued to lecture on his ideas until his death on June 23, 1995.

Dr. Albert Sabin (1906-1993)
Albert Bruce Sabin was born on August 26, 1906, in Bialystok, Poland (then part of Russia). He immigrated with his family to the United States in 1921 and ten years later received a medical degree from New York University. From 1931 through 1933, Dr. Sabin trained in internal medicine, pathology and surgery at Bellevue Hospital. He did research at the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine in England in 1934 and then returned to New York to join the staff of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research (now Rockefeller University). He devoted himself to polio research, seeking a way to prevent the disabling and sometimes fatal disease caused by the poliovirus. “A scientist,” Dr. Sabin once said, “cannot rest while knowledge which might be used to reduce suffering rests on the shelf.”

In 1939, Dr. Sabin moved to Ohio to continue his research on polio and other viruses, beginning what would become a three-decades-long association with the University of Cincinnati and the Children’s Hospital Research Foundation. For part of that time, he was away serving as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, researching diseases that afflicted American soldiers in World War II and, in the course of his work, helping to develop vaccines against dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis.

After the war, Dr. Sabin returned to Cincinnati and by the mid-1950s was ready to test a vaccine made from live but weakened poliovirus. His approach was based on one of the time-tested principles of immunology: Infection with a harmless strain of virus stimulates antibody production that protects against more virulent strains. In 1960, after extensive worldwide trials, Sabin’s live-virus vaccine was approved for use in the United States.

In the years following his success against polio, Dr. Sabin continued to play a major role in the scientific community-researching, consulting and lecturing. He was also involved in several humanitarian efforts, focusing on non-viral “diseases” such as poverty and ignorance. On March 3, 1993, Dr. Sabin died in Washington, D.C.; he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Today, Dr. Sabin’s vision of a world without polio has almost been realized, thanks to an extraordinary international effort to make his vaccine available to all people. Immunization efforts are continuing to make headway against the virus in Africa and Asia, raising hopes that global polio eradication will be achieved in the near future.

Current U.S. stamps, as well as a free comprehensive catalog, are available by toll-free phone order at 1-800-STAMP-24. A wide selection of stamps and other philatelic items is also available at the Postal Store at Beautifully framed prints of original stamp art for delivery straight to the home or office are available at

How to Order the First-Day-of-Issue Postmark

Customers have 30 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at their local Post Office, by telephone at 1-800-STAMP-24, and at the Postal Store Web site at They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes (to themselves or others), and place them in a larger envelope addressed to:

PO BOX 92282
WASHINGTON DC 20090-2282

PO BOX 92282
WASHINGTON DC 20090-2282

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark. All orders must be postmarked by April 7, 2006.

How to Order First-Day Covers

Stamp Fulfillment Services also offers first-day covers for new stamp issues and Postal Service stationery items postmarked with the official first-day-of-issue cancellation. Each item has an individual catalog number and is offered in the quarterly USA Philatelic catalog. Customers may request a free catalog by calling 1-800-STAMP-24 or writing to:

DEPT 6270
PO BOX 219014
KANSAS CITY MO 64121-9014

There are no philatelic products available for this stamps issue.

Since 1775, the Postal Service and its predecessor, the Post Office Department, has connected friends, families, neighbors and businesses by mail. It is an independent federal agency that visits 144 million homes and businesses every day, six days a week and is the only service provider delivering to every address in the nation. The Postal Service receives no taxpayer dollars for routine operations, but derives its operating revenues solely from the sale of postage, products and services. With annual revenues of more than $69 billion, it is the world’s leading provider of mailing and delivery services, offering some of the most affordable postage rates in the world. The Postal Service delivers more than half of the world’s mail volume - some 212 billion letters, advertisements, periodicals and packages a year - and serves seven and a half million customers each day at its 37,000 retail locations nationwide. Its website,, attracts more than 21 million visitors each month.


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