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CDC's Arctic Investigations Program

Iditarod mascot Izzy with Senator Lisa Murkowski

Each year, the State of Alaska's Immunization Program teams up with the Iditarod to promote vaccination. This is Iditarod mascot Izzy with Senator Lisa Murkowski at the start of the race. Photo courtesy Doreen Stangel, State of Alaska Immunization Program.

The Iditarod Today

The original “Great Race of Mercy” in 1925 occurred when dog mushers from around Alaska joined forces to carry life-saving diphtheria serum to Nome. Since 1973, the Iditarod Trail Race has been run annually in memory of this original sled dog relay. As part of the current race format, the Alaska Immunization Program, the Iditarod Trail Committee, and other partners in the “I Did It By Two!” campaign use the “Race to Vaccinate” to heighten awareness of the critical need for timely immunizations for children before they are two years old.

The serum run of 1925 and the modern Iditarod race are very important events here in Alaska,” says Arctic Investigations Program (AIP) Director Dr. Thomas Hennessy. “The State of Alaska uses the Iditarod race to promote immunization and other local public health activities.”

The 2015 Iditarod Trail Race began in Anchorage on Saturday, March 7.

CDC’s Arctic Investigations Program

The mission of AIP in the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases is the prevention of infectious diseases in people of the Arctic and sub-Arctic. AIP places a special emphasis on diseases of high incidence and concern among the Alaska Native and other northern indigenous peoples. The program conducts infectious disease surveillance, evaluates prevention services, and conducts applied research in collaboration with its partners.

Approximately 35 staff members are based at the AIP facility on the Alaska Native Medical Center Campus. Staff members include epidemiologists, laboratorians, research nurses, statisticians, and support staff. AIP provides support for research studies on the control and prevention of infectious disease, with particular emphasis on vaccine-preventable infections. Research areas include medical care, applied epidemiology, laboratory diagnosis, and biostatistical sciences.

More Information

  • Page last reviewed: March 9, 2015
  • Page last updated: March 9, 2015
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