1928 – 2016 (87 years old)
Year of great discovery/work
Smallpox was the first disease ever to be completely eliminated from the world. Not one person anywhere in the world is infected with smallpox. As the World Health Organization (WHO) prioritized this effort, it was Henderson who was chosen to lead the charge. Through a strategy of surveillance, containment and target vaccination encircling outbreaks, the disease was eradicated in 10 years. Prior to his post at the WHO, Henderson worked in the Epidemic Intelligence Service of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where he created a smallpox surveillance unit to monitor the importation of the disease into the U.S. He authored a book about the experience: Smallpox: The Death of a Disease – The Inside Story of Eradicating a Worldwide Killer.
Henderson became the U.S. government’s first emergency preparedness director. He organized programs to prevent dangerous foreign diseases from entering the country.