Dr. Donald A. Henderson

Public Health Heroes
Dr. Donald A. Henderson
Dr. Donald A. Henderson

Dr. Donald A. Henderson of the United States (1928-2016) was a physician, educator, and epidemiologist who led the international effort that eradicated smallpox around the world.

Dr. Anderson directed the global smallpox eradication campaign for the World Health Organization (WHO) from 1966 to 1977. In 1974, Dr. Henderson was instrumental in initiating WHO's global immunization program, which vaccinated 80 percent of the world's children against six major diseases and set the global eradication of poliomyelitis as one of its goals.  Dr. Henderson was the founding director of the Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Following the events of Sept. 11, 2001 and concerns surrounding bioterrorism, Dr. Henderson was named director of the office of Public Health Preparedness by the U.S. Health and Human Services (HSS).

He worked as a senior advisor to various departments of the U.S. government on civilian biodefense matters. During his outstanding professional career, he received several important distinctions, such as the National Medal of Science in Biology in 1986 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002.  In that same year, the Pan American Health Organization named him Public Health Hero for his outstanding contributions to improve the health of the Region. 

At the time of his passing, Dr. Henderson was a professor and dean emeritus of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. The University of Pittsburgh appointed him as a distinguished scholar at the Center for Health Security at the Medical Center where he taught courses of public health and medicine. He also served as editor emeritus of the academic journal Health Security. 

Dr. Donald A. Henderson died on August 16, 2016 in Baltimore City, Maryland.

Links of interest:

Article: PAHO Immunization Newsletter: Smallpox Zero: A Tribute to Dr. Donald A. Henderson 

Conversation with Dr. Ciro de Quadros Dr. Jon Andrus Dr. Donald Henderson October 2013 

Dr. Donald A. Henderson Speech about 30 years of Smallpox Eradication (2010)