Global Health Chronicles

Walter Dowdle

David J. Sencer CDC Museum, Global Health Chronicles
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1:37 - Background

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Partial Transcript: All right. So if you would, introduce yourself by name, say where and when you were born and briefly, a bit about your early life and education leading you into microbiology.

Segment Synopsis: Dowdle discusses where he was born and what he did before explaining how he became interested in virology.

Keywords: Berlin Airlift; common cold; coronaviruses; epidemiologist; hepatitis virus; influenza; Korean War; Langmuir, Alexander D., MD, MPH; measles virus; microbiology; military; polio; polio vaccine; respiratory viruses; tissue culture; virology

Subjects: Alabama; CDC [United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]; United States Air Force Medical Corps; University of Alabama; University of Maryland

5:05 - Development of Sabine Strains

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Partial Transcript: I remember you saying over the phone [in the pre-interview] that one of the strains of virus in the vaccine was developed in Montgomery [Alabama]. Is that correct?

Segment Synopsis: Dowdle talks about the development of the Sabine Strains and their connection to Montgomery, Alabama.

Keywords: Atlanta [Georgia]; H. Koprowski; health commissioner; Li, Dr. C.P.; live polio vaccine; Montgomery [Alabama]; New York City; Quonset hut; Sabine strains; Sabine, Albert B., MD; Schaeffer, Dr. Morris; tOPV [trivalent oral polio vaccine]; virology laboratory

Subjects: CDC [United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]; Maxwell Air Force Base; Taiwan

8:31 - Segregation at CDC

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Partial Transcript: And in 1960, you came to CDC. Did you come directly from University of Maryland?

Segment Synopsis: Dowdle discusses how segregation worked at the CDC.

Keywords: Clifton Road; infectious diseases; public health; Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever; Scarborough; segregated; Villa International

Subjects: CDC [United States Centers for Disease Control]; Emory University; University of Maryland; Washington D.C.

15:07 - Sabin

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Partial Transcript: So to return to the labs, there are two different directions I have in mind right now.

Segment Synopsis: Dowdle talks about his relationship with Dr. Albert B. Sabin.

Keywords: Atlanta [Georgia]; Congress; eradication programs; influenza; Kew, Olen M., PhD; London [England]; Long Island [New York]; networking; polio; Sabin, Albert B., MD; Salk, Dr. Jonas E.; vaccine-derived polioviruses

Subjects: 1976 Swine Flu Vaccine Program [National Influenza Immunization Program, NIIP]; Brazil; Time Magazine; World Health Organization International Influenza for the American, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

22:42 - Beginning of the Polio Eradication Program

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Partial Transcript: And of course, we all have to say: Brazil was the beginning of the polio eradication program.

Segment Synopsis: Dowdle discusses how polio eradication began in Brazil and Cuba.

Keywords: communist; mass immunization; polio eradication program; Sabin, Albert B., MD

Subjects: Brazil; Cuba

25:48 - The Eradication Mindset

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Partial Transcript: Did you know Ciro [C.A.] de Quadros [MD, MPH]?

Segment Synopsis: Dowdle talks about the mindset around eradication initiatives.

Keywords: de Quadros, Ciro C.A., MD, MPH; eradication mindset; infectious diseases; J. Baptista; laboratory program; poliomyelitis; primary health care; public health; smallpox eradication program

Subjects: Brazil

29:18 - Salk

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Partial Transcript: I mean, it’s just an incredible program, which is another [story,] —but back to Sabin and Salk.

Segment Synopsis: Dowdle discusses his relationship with Salk and Salk’s work on vaccines.

Keywords: cell culture; HIV vaccines; HIV [human immunodeficiency virus]; influenza vaccine; killed polio vaccine; Sabin, Albert B., MD; Salk, Dr. Jonas E.; tissue culture

Subjects: Salk, Dr. Jonas E.; vaccine

32:52 - Meeting Salk and Sabin

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Partial Transcript: I wanted to ask you, too, for your memories of first meeting each of them.

Segment Synopsis: Dowdle recounts meeting Salk and Sabin.

Keywords: Geneva [Switzerland]; influenza vaccine; Rougemont [Switzerland]; Sabin, Albert B., MD

Subjects: New York; Switzerland; WHO [World Health Organization]

37:10 - Poliovirus Study

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Partial Transcript: So you were working in flu, how did you come into polio?

Segment Synopsis: Dowdle explains how he came to work on polio and how the Reyes v. Wyeth Laboratories case of 1974 pushed CDC’s study of poliovirus.

Keywords: Atlanta [Georgia]; flu; graduate school; J.F. Obijeski; Kew, Olen M., PhD; killed vaccine; live vaccine; Pallansch, Mark A., PhD; polio; polio strains; respiratory diseases; Sabin Vaccine; Salk vaccine; virologist

Subjects: CDC [United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]; Reyes v. Wyeth Laboratories, 1974

43:07 - Poliovirus Surveillance

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Partial Transcript: The lab was really key, became key, in surveillance.

Segment Synopsis: Dowdle talks the way surveillance of poliovirus worked before the laboratories.

Keywords: acute flaccid paralysis; biological properties; continuum; environmental surveillance; genetic material; Kew, Olen M., PhD; nucleic acid; paralytic disease; paralytic poliomyelitis; plaque size; polio-associated paralysis; surveillance

Subjects: Brazil

48:22 - Reorganization

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Partial Transcript: Could you talk about where you were in your career at this time, though. You were—1973 Director of Virology Division—

Segment Synopsis: Dowdle discusses the reorganization of the CDC in the 1970s.

Keywords: assistant director, CDC, Science; Bureau of Epidemiology; Bureau of Laboratories; epidemiologists; Epidemiology Branch; Foege, William H. “Bill”, MD; J.O. Mason; Kew, Olen M., PhD; Laboratory Branch; Reagan Administration; Virology Division

Subjects: CDC [United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]; Center for Infectious Diseases

52:24 - Talloires Meeting

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Partial Transcript: After the reorganization, you were the director for the Center for Infectious Disease, and that was 1980 to 1986, right?

Segment Synopsis: Dowdle talks about the reactions from the Talloires Meeting.

Keywords: C.G de Macedo; Cochi, Stephen L. “Steve”, MD, MPH; de Quadros, Cico C.A., MD, MPH; Foege, William H. “Bill”, MD; Grant, James P. “Jim”; Henderson, Ralph H. “Rafe”, MD, MPH, MPP; horizontal program; Mahler, Dr. Halfdan T.; Nakajima, Dr. Hiroshi; polio; polio eradication; R.A. Keegan; single control; smallpox; Talloires [France]; vertical program

Subjects: AIDS [acquired immunodeficiency syndrome]; CDC [United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]; Fogarty Center; International Conference on Primary Healthcare, Alma-Ata, Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, September 6-12, 1978; Latin America; NIH [National Institutes of Health]; PAHO [Pan American Health Organization]; Rockefeller Foundation; Task Force on Global Health [formerly the Task Force on Child Survival and Development]; UNICEF [formerly, the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund]; WHA [World Health Assembly]; WHO [World Health Organization]; World Bank

60:05 - Hiring Dr. Kew

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Partial Transcript: Could you tell the story of recruiting Olen Kew to CDC in 1979?

Segment Synopsis: Dowdle talks about the process of hiring Dr. Kew.

Keywords: J.F. Obijeski; Kew, Olen M., PhD; molecular virologists; polio; Virology Division

Subjects: CDC [United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]

61:28 - Push for the Program

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Partial Transcript: But, once again, though, let me pick up on what I was saying about we weren’t moving forward that much with WHO, and we’d assign people over to WHO and not much was happening.

Segment Synopsis: Dowdle discusses pushing WHO to join CDC in beginning the polio eradication program.

Keywords: Cochi, Stephen L. “Steve”, MD, MPH; Nakajima, Dr. Hiroshi; Patriarca, Dr. Peter A.; R.A. Keegan

Subjects: CDC [United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]; WHO [World Health Organization]

63:54 - Program Proposal

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Partial Transcript: I want to go ahead and think about 1989, April 1989.

Segment Synopsis: Dowdle explains a bit of the history of how CDC got funding.

Keywords: domestic organization; Ebola; fundraising; J. Mason; medicine; public health; smallpox eradication

Subjects: CDC [United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]; Rotary International; Task Force on Global Health [formerly the Task Force on Child Survival and Development]; U.S. State Department; United States Agency for International Development [USAID]

67:31 - CDC and Rotary International

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Partial Transcript: That’s actually a really important story, and I know you said that maybe you would not necessarily want to talk about it just now, but would you tell the story of how all of that worked out?

Segment Synopsis: Dowdle talks about the relationship between the CDC and Rotary International in terms of polio eradication.

Keywords: Bumpers, Betty Lou Flanagan; Bumpers, Dale L., Former United States Senator; Congress; Evanston [Illinois]; immunization; polio elimination; Potomac [Maryland]; R. Keegan; Sabin, Albert B., MD; Sever, John L., MD; virologist

Subjects: Brazil; Capital Associates; CDC [United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]; Latin America; PAHO [Pan-American Health Organization]; Rotary International; Task Force on Global Health [formerly the Task Force on Child Survival and Development]; UNICEF [United Nations Children’s Fund]; WHO [World Health Organization]

75:16 - Anne-Rènee Heningburg

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Partial Transcript: Yeah, that’s my point. It’s the internal organization that they had to decide on, and they made the right decision, and that’s where [William T.] Bill Sergeant came in.

Segment Synopsis: Dowdle talks about women’s role in CDC’s work, specifically highlighting the story of Anne-Rènee Heningburg, and the dangers that come with working in polio eradication.

Keywords: CDC Foundation; Durry, Elias, MD, MPH; endowment program; Heningburg, Anne-Rènee, MPA; international health programs; Keegan, Robert A. “Bob”; Klaucke, Douglas Doug; Martin, Mary Louise; Mogadishu; Nairobi [Kenya]; polio eradication; security problems; Sergeant, William T. “Bill”; Somalia [Sudan]

Subjects: Kenya; Middle East; Rotary International; Sudan; Task Force on Global Health [formerly the Task Force on Child Survival and Development]

83:10 - Mentoring

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Partial Transcript: In the early ‘90s, I was hoping to talk with you about navigating bureaucracy in the early ‘90s.

Segment Synopsis: Dowdle discusses his mentorship of a group of CDC employees.

Keywords: acting director; Cochi, Stephen L. “Steve”, MD, MPH; deputy director; Keegan, Robert A. “Bob”; Kew, Olen M., PHD; mentoring; Pallansch, Mark A., PHD; Patriarca, Peter A., MD; polio eradication

Subjects: CDC Polio Eradication Activity [branch]; WHO [World Health Organization]

88:22 - D.A. Henderson

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Partial Transcript: Oh, well, let me—I can tell you, give you one example here, that Bob Keegan used to always say that one reason why the polio program took off is because the formation of the National Immunization Program [NIP], and—

Segment Synopsis: Dowdle recounts meeting D.A. Henderson and how Henderson was critical of polio eradication.

Keywords: Henderson D.A. [Donale Ainslie]; immunization; polio eradication strategies; Smallpox; smallpox eradication program; [U.S. President William J.] Clinton

Subjects: Bureau of State Services; CDC [United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]; HHS [Health and Human Services]; NIP [National Immunization Program]; Russia; WHO [World Health Program]

94:11 - Robert “Bob” A. Keegan

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Partial Transcript: So when Clinton came into office, that provided an opportunity, I think, for the Bumpers to be more involved in expanding immunization. Could you talk about their role?

Segment Synopsis: Dowdle talks about Robert Keegan and his determination for collaboration.

Keywords: Atlanta [Georgia]; Bumpers, Betty Lou Flanagan; Bumpers, Dale L., Former United States Senator; collaboration; gun control; Keegan, Robert A. “Bob”; [U.S. President William J.] Clinton

Subjects: Keegan, Robert A. “Bob”

98:29 - WHO Network Lab for Influenza

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Partial Transcript: We are at about an hour and a half at this point, so we can start the winding down process.

Segment Synopsis: Dowdle discusses his work in the laboratory systems.

Keywords: developing laboratory level; genetic work; Geneva level; Geneva [Switzerland]; influenza; Kew, Olen M., PhD; laboratories; molecular virology; nucleic acid isolation; Pallansch, Mark A., PHD; polio research issues; sequencing; vaccine type; wild type

Subjects: CDC [United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]; Task Force on Global Health [formerly the Task Force on Child Survival and Development]; WHO [World Health Organization]

104:17 - Bureaucracy

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Partial Transcript: But then I started gradually involving myself with the WHO at the Geneva level.

Segment Synopsis: Dowdle discusses the bureaucratic problems within the WHO.

Keywords: bureaucracy; Geneva level; Geneva [Switzerland]; Heningburg, Anne-Rènee, MPA; influenza; Keegan, Robert A. “Bob”; regional level; smallpox eradication program; technical level

Subjects: Britain; CDC [United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]; China; Germany; U.S.; WHO [World Health Organization]

110:28 - Lab Visits

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Partial Transcript: I wonder if it makes sense to continue—did you ever go out on lab visits?

Segment Synopsis: Dowdle talks about visiting labs and working with the Global Polio Laboratory Network.

Keywords: hidden children; Kew, Olen M. PHD; one-child policy; Pallansch, Mark A., PHD; quality control; regional level; vaccine wastage; wastage

Subjects: China; Global Polio Laboratory Network/”LabNet”/[GPLN]; Rotary International; WHO [World Health Organization]

117:28 - Bush Doctor

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Partial Transcript: No, I mean just to say that I guess my career has been more learning than anything else.

Segment Synopsis: Dowdle remembers meeting a bush doctor while working on an HIV program.

Keywords: bush doctor; Gould, Stephen Jay; HIV [Human immunodeficiency virus]; Kinshasa

Subjects: Africa

121:40 - Closing Thoughts

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Partial Transcript: Do you have any other kinds of closing thoughts? Anything that’s hanging on? Did we miss anything?

Segment Synopsis: Dowdle reflects on his work in closing up the interview.

Keywords: Cochi, Stephen L. “Steve”, MD, MPH; embassy; Kew, Olen M., PHD; malaria program; Martin, Mary Louise; Pallansch, Mark A., PHD; polio

Subjects: Kenya; Nairobi; Task Force on Global Health [formerly the Task Force on Child Survival and Development]; Uganda