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Leaders in American Medicine: Dr. Alexander D. Langmuir Interviewed by Dr. Donald A. Henderson. A National Medical Audiovisual Center Production in cooperation with Alpha Omega Alpha. Atlanta, Georgia

Dr. Alex Langmuir began by sharing that his sources of inspiration for Public Health were Margaret Sanger and Dr. George Bigelow at Harvard.  After Cornell Medical School, he enjoyed a formative internship at Boston City Hospital, trained with the NYS Health Department, and earned an MPH at Hopkins. He believed his notoriety from identifying polio in New York led him to the Respiratory Diseases Commission Laboratory.  However, he was confident that the Communicable Disease Center (CDC) offered more promising opportunities and was easily recruited.  At the CDC, he eagerly reshaped the malaria eradication program into Malarial Appraisal & Surveillance Teams.  Never shying from controversy, he fought the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for rights to epidemics, indicated that Gamma globulin was of little practical value, and identified Cutter Laboratories as the source of polio vaccine problems.  He also discussed salmonella outbreaks, immunization and state services, hospital infection and diarrheal disease programs, the Mortality, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report(MMWR), and avian flu.  He briefly spoke of EIS officers, trainings, and conferences.

KEY WORDS: Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS), surveillance, National Medical Audiovisual Center, Alpha Omega Alpha, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, National Medical Audiovisual Center, Harvard, Cornell, Boston City Hospital, New York State Health Department, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, polio, Respiratory Diseases Commission Laboratory, Adenovirus 4, CDC, Malarial Appraisal and Surveillance Teams, Bronfman Prize, NIH, 1955 Cutter Incidence, oral polio vaccine, staphylococcus, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), Immunization and State Services, leukemia, family planning, World Health Assembly, “Global Surveillance of Communicable Diseases”

KEY NAMES: Dr. Alexander D. Langmuir, Dr. Donald A. Henderson, James A. Campbell, Dr. Beatrice C. Seegal, Dr. David E. Seegal, Margaret Sanger, Dr. George H. Bigelow, Dr. Edward S. Godfrey Jr., Dr. Maxwell Finland, Dr. David D. Rutstein, Dr. Edward Rogers, Dr. Edward S. Godfrey, Dr. George H. Ramsey, Dr. Earnest L. Stebbins, Dr. Hollis S. Ingraham, Wade Hampton Frost, John H. Dingle, Dr. Justin M. Andrews, Dr. Joseph Mountin, Philip S. Brachman, Dr. Carl W. Tyler, Dr. Clark W. Heath Jr., Dr. Walsh McDermott, Charles “Mickey” LeMaistre, Dr. Karel Raska, Albert B. Sabin, John R. Paul, James Trask

“As I looked it over and saw the vision, there was no question, Justin Andrews took me to the mountain and showed me the Promised Land and everything he said was there…the range of opportunity, the potential was perfectly obvious, and my considerable self-confidence, even though I was depressed at the academic situation, I had no trouble going.” –Dr. Langmuir on being recruited to the CDC


The David J. Sencer CDC Museum at the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA 30333


“LANGMUIR, ALEXANDER D.,” The Global Health Chronicles, accessed February 22, 2024,