Selling Science: Polio and the Promise of Gamma Globulin explores America’s first national effort to control polio before the vaccine. I have been interested in the history of polio for a long time and have written on subjects ranging from health activism to vaccination.

The idea for Selling Science came to me while I was at an archive and I discovered a file box labelled ‘gamma globulin study.’ The box contained a series of original documents, describing a little known project. As I dug deeper, I soon realized that this was a story that needed to be told, as there was little written about this pioneering medical experiment. The gamma globulin study was the first time American researchers undertook a large placebo-controlled medical experiment on an open population and it was unknown whether parents would volunteer their healthy children. How did it happen and what were the results?

The saga of the gamma globulin study and national immunization program shows how researchers approached medical experiments during the 1950s and why families and health professionals chose to become partners in science. This book not only sheds light on the nature of early clinical trials, but also reveals some of the motivations behind the Salk vaccine trial.

I hope you enjoy this book and I look forward to hearing from you!

Stephen E. Mawdsley