We Were There
We Were There
“We Were There” is a quarterly lecture series featuring past and present CDC investigators – the original Disease Detectives – as they share their personal perspectives on historically important, CDC-led epidemiologic and laboratory investigations. This series will provide insight into the rich past of CDC and give the audience a chance to hear first-hand accounts from the responders.
For more as to how the “We Were There” series came to be – visit our About “We Were There” page.
“We Were There” provides insight into the rich past of CDC and gives the audience a chance to hear first-hand accounts from CDC responders. Attendees heard a fascinating story of how disease detectives unraveled the mysteries of toxic oil syndrome and eosinophilia myalgia syndrome and how these investigations can help inform future CDC investigations of contaminated products.
The Office of Science invites you to the next “We Were There” lecture on September 5, 2019. “We Were There” provides insight into the rich past of CDC and gives the audience a chance to hear first-hand accounts from CDC responders. This “We Were There” is being presented coincident with the 50th anniversary of the opening of CDC’s high-containment laboratory facilities.
In 2000, a physician reported that eight former microwave-popcorn factory workers had developed a rare and disabling lung disease, bronchiolitis obliterans. Join us to hear a fascinating story of how disease detectives unraveled the mystery of ‘popcorn-lung’ disease, and how we can protect workers from permanent lung damage caused by the butter flavoring diacetyl.
Twenty-five years ago, a new and deadly type of Hantavirus swept through parts of southwestern U.S. Join us to hear fascinating stories about the discovery of the Sin Nombre virus and its continued public health impact.
On January 22, 1974, the deaths of 3 employees of a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plant in Louisville, Kentucky, were reported to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The deaths were caused by a rare type of liver cancer, hepatic angiosarcoma. At the time, only 27 Americans a year were diagnosed with it.
Learn about how a disease outbreak associated with tampon use sickened healthy women in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Listen to CDC’s original disease detectives describe how they unraveled the link between Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) and high-absorbency tampons. Learn how their investigations substantially decreased TSS cases and had a lasting impact on public health confidentiality.
In 1993, four children died and more than 700 people in four states were sickened with severe and often bloody diarrhea. Public health investigators quickly linked the disease outbreaks to E. coli O157, spread through hamburgers served at fast-food restaurants. Most of the cases occurred in Washington.
In 1955, some batches of polio vaccine given to the public contained live polio virus, even though they had passed required safety testing. Over 250 cases of polio were attributed to vaccines produced by one company: Cutter Laboratories. This case, which came to be known as the Cutter Incident, resulted in many cases of paralysis. The vaccine was recalled as soon as cases of polio were detected.
In the late 1980s, researchers at CDC made a discovery that would prove to be one of the greatest achievements in the history of public health. While performing a population-based study on birth defects, investigators found that folic acid in a multivitamin could reduce the risk of neural tube defects.
In 1976, more than 200 attendees of an American Legion convention in Philadelphia fell ill, and dozens died. Doctors were unable to pinpoint the cause of this mysterious and deadly outbreak. CDC’s disease detectives went to work, and though it took several months and countless hours, the responsible pathogen was eventually identified.
“And the Band Played On… Early Days of the AIDS Epidemic in the United States: Views from Atlanta and Hollywood”
On May 25, 2016, OADS offered the first in the “We Were There” lecture series. The inaugural event, “And the Band Played On…Early Days of the AIDS Epidemic in the United States: Views from Atlanta and Hollywood,” commemorated the 35th anniversary of the first AIDS MMWR article with a presentation by Dr. Harold Jaffe and Dr. Jim Curran.
- March 2, 2020: Little Things Matter: New Diseases Traced to Contaminated Food and Supplements
- September 5, 2019: Ebola in Zaire, 1976: The Past as Prologue
- January 30, 2019: Not Everything Is Better with Butter-flavoring: Popcorn Lung Disease and the Dangers of Diacetyl
- August 15, 2018: Of Mice and Men: Discovering a Deadly Hantavirus in the Americas
- April 24, 2018: How a Rare Cancer Changed the Workplace and Environment
- October 19, 2017: Toxic Shock Syndrome: A Lasting Legacy
- May 25, 2017: How Deadly Burgers Made Food Safer — The Impact of the 1993 E. coli O157 Outbreak
- January 25, 2017: Conquering Polio in America: The Cutter Incident and Beyond
- November 30, 2016: Folic Acid, Birth Defects and Perspectives from China
- August 31, 2016: History, Mystery and Discovery: 40 Years of Legionnaires’ Disease
- May 25, 2016: And the Band Played On… Early Days of the AIDS Epidemic in the United States: Views from Atlanta and Hollywood
Share your thoughts and experiences! Do you have a story to tell? Please tell us – by visiting our BLOG page!
Email us at WeWereThere@cdc.gov