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In Memory
Remembering a health pioneer

"Dr. Sencer was the epitome of public health. He was fearless in its mission. It was never about him. It was about the people.” - Dr. James Curran, Dean, Rollins School of Public Health

Former CDC director David Sencer used to rely on the point system to recruit students for Emory’s master of community health program. He would point to a CDC staff member and say, “You are going.”

Sencer, a founding father of the ­Rollins School of Public Health, died from complications of heart disease on May 2 at age 86.

As the longest-serving director of the CDC, Sencer oversaw a substantial expansion of the agency as it dealt for the first time with malaria, nutrition, health education, and occupational safety. Its greatest success during his tenure was a program that eradicated smallpox, beginning in central Africa and eventually extending worldwide.

Sencer also was instrumental in partnering with Emory faculty to establish a master of community health program in 1974. By the 1990s, the program had evolved into the Rollins School of Public Health. Along with his leadership during the smallpox eradication campaign, he counted the program and school among his greatest contributions to public health.

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