Peter L. Salk, M.D.

Jonas Salk Legacy Foundation


Peter has served as President of the Jonas Salk Legacy Foundation in La Jolla since 2009, and is a Professor in the Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health. He graduated from Harvard University in 1965 and from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1969, and undertook two years of house staff training in internal medicine at the University Hospitals of Cleveland. He then worked in his father’s laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies from 1972-1984 conducting research on the biology and immunotherapy of cancer and autoimmune disease and strategies for vaccine production. He worked again with his father from 1991-1995 on a project to develop an inactivated vaccine for HIV infection, and subsequently engaged in the introduction of AIDS treatment programs in Africa and Asia. His current activities include educating the public regarding his father’s life and work and exploring approaches to reducing the severity of various public health problems and to improving prospects for smoothing the transition to a sustainable human future.

ANFA Themes

Peter is trained as neither an architect nor a neuroscientist, but his interests extend into both of these realms. As a member of the ANFA Advisory Council, Peter represents a link to the early history of the organization, which emerged as an outgrowth of conversations in the early 1990s between Jonas Salk and architects Norman Koonce, Syl Damianos and others regarding the mechanisms by which architectural settings influence human experience – a subject which had become deeply personal to Salk in the context of his creative encounter with Louis Kahn during the design and construction of the Salk Institute. One of Peter’s major interests centers on the concept that there may be a unifying principle at the basis of nature that unites objective and subjective aspects of existence. Reports presented at previous ANFA conferences have described the uplifting effects of exposure to images of particular architectural settings and the neural correlates of these experiences. Presentations at the most recent ANFA conference have suggested that mobile equipment may allow extension of such studies into the architectural spaces themselves. An intriguing question is whether buildings may exert effects on individuals mediated through other than sensory channels of stimulation – perhaps loosely analogous to the way in which an object exerts gravitational effects on its surroundings through a warping of the underlying geometry of space and time. It would seem worthwhile to maintain an open mind regarding the possibility that there is more to learn about the way nature is structured at its depths and that development of further knowledge in this realm may have practical implications with respect to optimizing not only architectural/experiential interactions but also individual/societal interactions more generally.

Selected Publications

Salk, P.L. (1992). An evolutionary approach to world peace. Modern Science and Vedic Science 5, 184-198. (

Salk, P.L. (2017). Individual and Collective Consciousness as the Basis for Sustainable Development. Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Sustainable Development, September 18‑19, 2017. (