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Commemorating CDC′s 60th Anniversary

CDC 60th Anniversary PosterJuly 1, 2006 marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which was founded as the Communicable Disease Center on July 1, 1946, in Atlanta Georgia.

MMWR Director's Perspectives

To commemorate this anniversary, the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) is presenting a series of Director’s Perspectives, commentaries by past CDC directors and the current director. The directors were invited to give their personal perspectives on the key public health achievements and challenges that occurred during their tenures. This week's issue contains the first of the Director's Perspective articles and is written by David J. Sencer. Dr. Sencer served as the director of CDC during 1966-1977. Commentaries by other CDC directors will be published in the months ahead. This week's MMWR is available in its entirety.

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About CDC's History

The CDC is recognized around the world as a leading force in public health expertise. Dr. Joseph W. Mountin, founder of the original Communicable Disease Center, was a visionary public health leader with high hopes for this small and, at that time, relatively insignificant branch of the Public Health Service. The agency, which grew out of the Malaria Control in War Areas, occupied one floor of the Volunteer Building on Peachtree Street near downtown Atlanta and had fewer than 400 employees. The new institution expanded its focus to include all communicable diseases and to provide practical help to state health departments when requested.

Although medical epidemiologists were scarce in those early years, disease surveillance became the cornerstone of CDC's mission of service to the states and over time changed the practice of public health. While there have been many significant accomplishments since CDC's humble beginnings, the following highlights some of CDC's important achievements and the visionary leadership that recognized a future for CDC full of possibilities for improving public health worldwide.