2015 Salk Symposium

In December 7, 2015, a panel of distinguished speakers joined 150 participant-observers at Pitt Public Health’s second annual Jonas Salk Symposium. During this year’s symposium, scholars representing different fields discussed the intersection of wisdom and aging, each through a unique lens ranging from anthropology to neurobiology. A lively discussion was held between the panelists and observers representing the University and Pittsburgh communities, including several dozen participants from the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

Following the symposium, panelists gathered to begin work on an article for publication. Pitt Public Health continues to advance this topic through the Center for Aging and Population Health and in collaboration with the UPMC/Pitt Aging Institute.

Program Agenda and Videos

Monday, December 7, 2015


8:45 Peter L. Salk, Remarks and initial discussion
A Perspective on Wisdom

9:15 Caterina Rosano, professor of epidemiology, Pitt Public Health
The Wisdom of Population Neuroscience Methods to Understand Resilience to Brain Aging

10:15 Dilip Jeste, professor in geriatric psychiatry and associate dean for aging studies, University of California, San Diego
Neuroscience of Wisdom

11:00 Dan Blazer, professor in geriatric psychiatry, Duke; chair, IOM Study of Cognitive Aging
Practical Wisdom and the Aging Brain: Reflections on the IOM Report on Cognitive Aging

11:45 Jacqui Smith, professor of psychology, University of Michigan
Applying Wisdom to Life in Old Age

1:00 Baruch Fischhoff, Howard Heinz Professor of Social and Decision Sciences, Engineering, and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University
Wisdom in Academia?

1:45 Rachel Caspari, professor of anthropology, Central Michigan University
An Evolutionary Perspective on Wisdom and Aging: Longevity and the Origin of Modern Humans

2:30 Phil Kao, visiting assistant professor of anthropology, University of Pittsburgh; conference rapporteur
The Performativity of Wisdom within and beyond Society

3:30 Salk Symposium on Wisdom and Aging: Overview Discussion
(general discussion moderated by Chip Reynolds)

The discussion continued among the speakers and hosts on Tuesday, December 8 to finalize recommendations and next steps.

About the Jonas Salk Symposia Series

While most known for polio vaccine development, Jonas Salk's broader commitments to a sustainable human future were major topics of his later writings on the environment, the economy, global health, the meaning of health, and the human dimension of creating constructive change. The Jonas Salk Symposia, hosted by Pitt Public Health, honor him by bringing together speakers from diverse disciplines to discuss the continuing importance of one such theme each year. Recent, upcoming, and proposed symposia topics include:

Symposium Photos

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Salk Legacy Stories


EPI graduate shares her experience of overcoming polio (video) 

EPI graduate shares her experience of overcoming polio (video)

CONSULATE GENERAL OF INDIA IN NEW YORK -- In observance of the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disability, Sunita Dodani (EPI ’06) shares her story of overcoming polio and thriving in life. After experiencing paralysis in all four limbs, Dodani met the challenges of growing up as a... (01/03/2019)

Celebrate 70: The Salk legacy (video) 

Celebrate 70: The Salk legacy (video)

“[Jonas Salk] had no idea what was going to come out of this experiment. He was just terrified that it wasn’t going to turn out to work, but it did,” said Peter Salk of his father's early tests of the first polio vaccines. Jonas Salk developed the first successful polio vaccine while working at Pit... (04/18/2018)

Iron lung used to treat polio patients displayed at Pitt Public Health 

Iron lung used to treat polio patients displayed at Pitt Public Health

PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW - An iron lung machine will be on display at Pitt Public Health to honor polio pioneer Dr. Jonas Salk, who created the polio vaccine in 1955. The vaccine, tested in Pittsburgh school children, is considered one of medicine's most significant medical breakthroughs. “It's a ... (04/11/2018)

Pitt's 'new' iron lung is the symbol of the Salk achievement there 

Pitt's 'new' iron lung is the symbol of the Salk achievement there

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - The tubular yellow artifact placed on display in the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health lobby Tuesday was an unfamiliar oddity to the many millennials walking by it, but 73-year-old Jael Greenleaf of Squirrel Hill knows it well. “I am claustrophobic ... (04/11/2018)

Pitt band at 1956 Sugar Bowl honors Jonas Salk 

Pitt band at 1956 Sugar Bowl honors Jonas Salk

During the 1956 Sugar Bowl halftime, the Pitt marching band spelled out SALK to honor the polio vaccine work of Pitt researcher Jonas Salk. The efforts of his research team culminated in the largest national controlled field trial in history, resulting in the vaccine’approval for the public on April... (09/06/2017)

Salk's polio vaccine is biggest scientific discovery in Pennsylvania history 

Salk's polio vaccine is biggest scientific discovery in Pennsylvania history

SCIENCE ALERT - From the invention of the steam-powered boat engine to the sequencing of the human genome, each state can claim its own scientific advancements. Pennsylvania claims Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine, invented while working at the University of Pittsburgh. The vaccine is now used worldwide, ... (07/08/2017)

More on Salk Legacy

Event Questions?

Contact Jill Reumpler at ruempler@pitt.edu or call 412-383-8849.