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CDC beginnings : 1940s, 1950, 1960s
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    1940s: Malaria Control in War Areas; Communicable Disease Center; land given along Clifton Road in 1947 to the USPHS for CDC’s first headquarters -- 1950s: Epidemiologic Intelligence Service (EIS) established in 1951; 1957, the USPHS transferred its Venereal Disease (VD) unit to CDC; polio; venereal diseases; sexually transmitted diseases campaign – 1960s: 1961, CDC began to publish the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR); vaccination campaigns; CDC completed headquarters buildings; WellBee vaccine campaign; 1967, CDC took over quarantine activities within the U.S. and at U.S. borders; Lassa fever and Marburg fever outbreaks.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was established as the Office of Malaria Control in War Areas (MCWA) by the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) during World War II, to reduce malaria around American military installations. Atlanta was selected as the MCWA headquarters because of its central location in the southern U.S. where malaria was then common.

    At the end of World War II, the federal government provided resources to fight contagious (or communicable) diseases throughout the U.S. On July 1, 1946, MCWA was renamed the Communicable Disease Center (CDC) with offices located in Georgia (Atlanta, Chamblee, Savannah) and Alabama (Montgomery).

    Encouraged by Robert W. Woodruff, the philanthropist and chairman of The Coca-Cola Company and Emory University board member, Emory transferred 15 acres of land in 1947 to the USPHS for just $10 to use for the construction of a central CDC campus. Even in the era of the 5¢ Coke, this was an extraordinary value.

    This is the property provided to CDC for its original campus—Michael Street on your left marks the dividing line between CDC and Emory. Construction began in 1955 after Congress provided $12 million for the project. The new campus included six buildings designed by Atlanta architectural firm Robert and Company, and was dedicated on September 8, 1960. By the time of its dedication, expansion plans were already underway for the campus. Between 1961 and 1964, six major additions were made to the original buildings and two new buildings were constructed, including a laboratory, mechanical shop, and warehouse.

    To learn more about CDC’s rich history, visit the David J. Sencer CDC Museum.



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