“MMR causes autism.” “Gardasil makes girls promiscuous.” Today’s highly publicized debates about vaccines are often compared (unfavorably) to the heyday of vaccine development in the mid-twentieth century, when smallpox was eradicated and schoolchildren lined up by the millions to be protected against polio. At a time when presidential candidates are asked about their stance on vaccines and when famous comedians make internet videos about how their benefits outweigh their risks, it may be mete to recall that those campaigns were no less political or fraught with uncertainty.

 Across the street from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and its Oakland hospital complex is a sand-colored building with many windows: Salk Hall.

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