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:

Grand Rounds Event

Eligible for Public Health
Grand Rounds

Salk Legacy Stories


ON THIS DAY: February 23, 1954, Dr. Jonas Salk begins first mass polio vaccination in Pittsburgh 

ON THIS DAY: February 23, 1954, Dr. Jonas Salk begins first mass polio vaccination in Pittsburgh

WPXI NEWS  — A group of children rolled up their sleeves for their place in history on Feb. 23, 1954, at a mass inoculation held at Arsenal Elementary School in Pittsburgh. The new polio vaccine they received was developed by Dr. Jonas Salk at the Virus Research Lab at the University of Pittsbu... (02/23/2021)

Amanpour & Salk: Vaccine lessons from history (video) 

Amanpour & Salk: Vaccine lessons from history (video)

CNN — Christiane Amanpour discusses with IDM's Peter Salk the 97% drop in polio prevalence within a few years of initial vaccine adoption. In 1953, Dr. Peter Salk was one of the first to receive a polio vaccine—from none other than his father, Jonas Salk. They go on to discuss herd immunity and vac... (01/13/2021)



PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - In a 3500-word and photo retrospective, journalist Laura Malt Schneiderman looks back at the last massive vaccine rollout—for polio—which started in Pittsburgh. (01/12/2021)

From polio to the COVID vaccine, IDM's Peter Salk sees great progress 

From polio to the COVID vaccine, IDM's Peter Salk sees great progress

NPR - IDM's Peter Salk was just 9 when he got one of the first polio vaccine shots in 1953 at the family home outside Pittsburgh. Today, he has been hugely impressed by the development of a vaccine in less than a year. Dr. Salk is a bit concerned about the number of people who are reluctant, or out... (12/30/2020)

"It's going to be a long road" - What IDM's Peter Salk thinks about COVID-19 

"It's going to be a long road" - What IDM's Peter Salk thinks about COVID-19

USA TODAY - Jonas Salk’s vaccine helped wipe polio from most of the world, something that many people hope will happen with the coronavirus vaccine. However, IDM's Dr. Peter Salk warns eradicating polio from the U.S. was a long and difficult journey, and he doesn’t expect eliminating COVID-19 will ... (12/29/2020)

Q&A: Peter Salk on the Lessons Learned from Vaccine Development History 

Q&A: Peter Salk on the Lessons Learned from Vaccine Development History

Peter Salk was 11 years old when a University of Pittsburgh team led by his father, the late Jonas Salk, created the inactivated poliovirus vaccine. The day of the 1955 announcement that the vaccine was safe, effective and potent, “everything just went crazy,” he recalls. “There were so many calls ... (11/17/2020)

More on Salk Legacy

Event Questions?

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