Chapter 4: The National Institutes of Health
One of the earliest goals of the American Public Health Association, formed in 1872 to advance the field of ‘sanitary science’ through extensive government regulation of all matters pertaining to the health and safety of Americans, was the creation of a cabinet-level department of public health. At the Association’s first annual meeting in 1873, one speaker called for the establishment of a National Sanitary Bureau and this view was echoed at the 1875 annual meeting of the American Medical Association.1 Its supporters regarded ‘continuous scientific investigations’ as a primary function of such a department and, toward this end, the forerunner of the Public Health Service, the Marine Hospital Service, formally established a Hygienic Laboratory for medical research in New York in August 1887. In 1883 Congress had empowered the Marine Hospital Service (MHS), the forerunner of the Public Health Service, to quarantine foreign ships seeking entry into American ports if there was indication that any passenger harbored an infectious disease. As a consequence the MHS set up a bacteriological laboratory at the Marine Hospital on Staten Island and it was this research facility that served as the foundation of the Hygienic Laboratory established in Washington, DC four years later. As its first director, the Supervising Surgeon, John B. Hamilton, chose Dr Joseph J. Kinyoun, who had studied with Pasteur and Koch in Europe. In 1887 and 1888 Kinyoun isolated Vibrio cholera from immigrants at Ellis Island but the imposition of a strict quarantine appears to have prevented the entry of...
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