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Becoming Better Ancestors: Learning from the History of Global Health and CDC

The Becoming Better Ancestors™ Fund was inspired by the writings of Dr. William “Bill” Foege, a renowned American physician and epidemiologist. During his expansive career, Dr. Foege was one of the key architects of the successful smallpox eradication effort in the 1970s. He also guided Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates to make global public health impact their top priority, championed the science and management behind vaccines and vaccination and co-founded the Task Force for Child Survival, now the Task Force for Global Health. From May 1977 to 1983, Dr. Foege served as the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) where his legacy continues to inspire multiple generations working to protect the public’s health.

The fund was created to support best in class, future-forward thinking and strategic opportunities for improving public health. The fund was inspired by lessons learned from transformational public health impact throughout the history of CDC—including Smallpox eradication, the HIV epidemic, SARS, Ebola, Zika virus and the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to non-communicable disease work such as reducing tobacco use and pioneering a public health approach to violence and injury prevention. The fund aims to explore how we might apply these lessons to address evolving and complex public health issues, like inequity, climate change and its impact on health and the preparedness of our communities. Learning from our public health history can empower us to become better ancestors—to leave the world better than we found it. Inaugural support for the fund was provided by Dr. Craig White (EIS, Class of '83), a long-time friend of Dr. Foege.

Photo credit: Billy Howard for The Task Force for Global Health

Becoming Better Ancestors
United States of America
To support best in class, future-forward thinking and strategic opportunities for improving public health, inspired by lessons learned from transformational public health events throughout the history of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC).
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