Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
US CDC logo.svg
Agency overview
Formed July 1, 1946
Preceding agencies Office of National Defense Malaria Control Activities (1942)
Office of Malaria Control in War Areas (1942–1946)
Communicable Disease Center (1946–1967)
National Communicable Disease Center (1967–1970)
Center for Disease Control (1970–1980)
Centers for Disease Control (1980–1992)
Headquarters Atlanta, Georgia
Agency executive Thomas R. Frieden, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Parent agency Department of Health and Human Services

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the national public health institute of the United States. The CDC is a federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services and is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Its main goal is to protect public health and safety through the control and prevention of disease, injury, and disability. The CDC focuses national attention on developing and applying disease control and prevention. It especially focuses its attention on infectious disease, food borne pathogens, environmental health, occupational safety and health, health promotion, injury prevention, and educational activities designed to improve the health of United States citizens.[1] The CDC combats emerging diseases and other health risks, including birth defects, West Nile virus, avian influenza, swine influenza, pandemic flu, E. coli, and bioterrorism, to name a few. In addition, the CDC researches and provides information on non-infectious diseases such as obesity and diabetes and is a founding member of the International Association of National Public Health Institutes.

The CDC has one of the few biosafety level 4 laboratories in the country,[2] as well as one of only two official repositories of smallpox in the world. The second smallpox store resides at the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology VECTOR in the Russian Federation.[3]


The Communicable Disease Center was founded July 1, 1946 as the successor to the World War II Malaria Control in War Areas program[4] of the Office of National Defense Malaria Control Activities.[5] Preceding its founding, organizations with global influence in malaria control were the Malaria Commission of the League of Nations and the Rockefeller Foundation, which supported malaria control, sought to have the governments take over some of its efforts, and collaborated with the agency.[6][7]

The new agency was a branch of the U.S. Public Health Service, and Atlanta was chosen as the location because malaria was endemic in the South. Offices were located on the sixth floor of the Volunteer Building on Peachtree Street. With a budget at the time of about $1 million, 59 percent of its personnel were engaged in mosquito abatement and habitat control, with the objective of control and eradication of malaria in the United States.[8] Among its 369 employees, the main jobs at CDC were originally entomology and engineering. In CDC's initial years, more than six and a half million homes were sprayed, mostly with DDT. In 1946, there were only seven medical officers on duty, represented by an early organization chart drawn in the shape of a mosquito.

Under Dr. Joseph Mountin the CDC continued to advocate for public health issues and pushed to extend its responsibilities to many other communicable diseases. In 1947, the CDC made a token payment of $10 to Emory University for 15 acres (61,000 m2) of land on Clifton Road in DeKalb County, still the home of CDC headquarters today. CDC employees collected the money to make the purchase. The benefactor behind the "gift" was Robert Woodruff, chairman of the board of The Coca-Cola Company. Woodruff had a long-time interest in malaria control, which had been a problem in areas where he went hunting. The same year, the PHS transferred its San Francisco based plague laboratory into the CDC as the Epidemiology Division, and a new Veterinary Diseases Division was established.[4]

The mission of the CDC expanded beyond its original focus on malaria to include sexually transmitted diseases when the Venereal Disease Division of the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) was transferred to the CDC in 1957. In 1960, Tuberculosis Control was transferred to the CDC from PHS, with an immunization program was becoming established three years later.[9]

The agency then went through a series of name changes: the National Communicable Disease Center (NCDC) on July 1, 1967; the Center for Disease Control (CDC) on June 24, 1970; and the Centers for Disease Control on October 14, 1980.[5] An act of the United States Congress appended the words "and Prevention" to the name effective October 27, 1992. However, Congress directed that the initialism "CDC" be retained because of its name recognition.[10] CDC now operates under the Department of Health and Human Services umbrella.

Diseases with which the CDC is involved

Donald Henderson as part of the CDC's smallpox eradication team in 1966


The CDC has launched campaigns targeting the transmission of influenza, including the H1N1 swine flu. The CDC has launched websites including to educate people.

Other infectious diseases

The CDC has also done its part in fighting and providing information on other infectious diseases, including smallpox, measles, and others.

The CDC also runs a program that protects the public from rare and dangerous substances such as anthrax and the Ebola virus. The program, called the Select Agents Program, calls for inspections of labs in the U.S. that work with dangerous pathogens.[11]

Non-infectious disease

The CDC also combats non-infectious diseases, including diabetes and obesity.[12]

Informatics programs

Health and clinical informatics

The following health/clinical informatics options exist for potential students:

Public Health Informatics Fellowship Program (PHIFP)
"PHIFP is a 2-year, competency-based training program in public health informatics. Fellows are placed in assignments in centers and offices across CDC where they gain experiential training to enhance the agency’s informatics workforce."
Available online? No
Program URL:

External links


A few elements of this article are reused from the Wikipedia article.


  1. "About CDC - Mission, Role and Pledge". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 23 March 2014. 
  2. "Viral Special Pathogens Branch (VSPB) - About VSPB". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 23 March 2014. 
  3. McKie, Robin; Stargardter, Gabriel (12 February 2011). "Smallpox virus: crunch time for the fate of a global killer". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 23 March 2014. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Parascandola, J. (November–December 1996). "From MCWA to CDC — origins of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention". Public Health Reports 111 (6): 549–51. PMC 1381908. PMID 8955706. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Records of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Record Group 442) 1921–2004". Guide to Federal Records. U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved 23 March 2014. 
  6. Nájera, J.A. (June 2001). "Malaria control: achievements, problems and strategies". Parassitologia 43 (1–2): 1–89. PMID 11921521. 
  7. Stapleton, D.H. (2004). "Lessons of history? Anti-malaria strategies of the International Health Board and the Rockefeller Foundation from the 1920s to the era of DDT". Public Health Reports 119 (2): 206–15. PMC 1497608. PMID 15192908. 
  8. "CDC and Malaria (1946-present)". The History of Malaria, an Ancient Disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 8 February 2010. Retrieved 23 March 2014. 
  9. Meyerson, Beth E.; Martich, Fred A.; Naehr, Gerald P. (2008). Ready to Go: The History and Contributions of U.S. Public Health Advisors. American Social Health Association. pp. 312. ISBN 9780615203836. 
  10. "CDC: the Nation's Prevention Agency". Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 41 (44): 834. November 1992. PMID 1331740. Retrieved 23 March 2014. 
  11. Cohen, Bryan (10 February 2014). "CDC’s Select Agents Program protects against bioterror threats". BioPrepWatch. Retrieved 23 March 2014. 
  12. "Obesity, Diabetes Estimates by County, 2007". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 7 January 2010. Retrieved 23 March 2014.