|Centers for Disease Control and Prevention|
|Formed||October 27, 1992|
|Preceding agencies||Office of National Defense Malaria Control Activities (1942)
Office of Malaria Control in War Areas (1942–1946)
Communicable Disease Center (1946–1967)
National Communicable Disease Center (1967–1970)
Center for Disease Control (1970–1980)
Centers for Disease Control (1980–1992)
|Jurisdiction||Federal government of the United States|
|Annual budget||$8.8 billion USD (2008)|
|Agency executive||Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention|
|Parent agency||United States Department of Health and Human Services|
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (or CDC) is a United States federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services based in Atlanta, Georgia. It works to protect public health and safety by providing information to enhance health decisions, and it promotes health through partnerships with state health departments and other organizations. The CDC focuses national attention on developing and applying disease prevention and control (especially infectious diseases), environmental health, occupational safety and health, health promotion, prevention and education activities designed to improve the health of the people of the United States.
The CDC was founded in 1942 during World War II as the Office of National Defense Malaria Control Activities. Preceding its founding, organizations with global influence in malaria control were the Malaria Commission of the League of Nations and the Rockefeller Foundation. The Rockefeller Foundation greatly supported malaria control, sought to have the governments take over some if its efforts, and collaborated with the agency.
The new agency was a branch of the U.S. Public Health Service and Atlanta was chosen as the location because malaria was endemic in the Southern United States. The agency changed names (see infobox on top right) before adopting the title Communicable Disease Center in 1946. Offices were located on the sixth floor of the Volunteer Building on Peachtree Street. With a budget at the time of about $1 million, 59 percent of its personnel were engaged in mosquito abatement using the insecticide DDT and habitat control with the objective of control and eradication of malaria in the United States. Among its 369 employees, the main jobs at CDC were originally entomology and engineering. In CDC's initial years, more than six and a half million homes were sprayed. In 1946, there were only seven medical officers on duty and an early organization chart was drawn, somewhat fancifully, in the shape of a mosquito.
CDC leader Dr. Joseph Mountin continued to advocate for public health issues and to push for CDC to extend its responsibilities to many other communicable diseases. In 1947, CDC made a token payment of $10 to Emory University for 15 acres (61,000 m2) of land on Clifton Road in DeKalb County, the home of CDC headquarters today. CDC employees collected the money to make the purchase. The benefactor behind the “gift” was Robert Woodruff, Chairman of the Board of the Coca-Cola Company. Woodruff had a long-time interest in malaria control; it had been a problem in areas where he went hunting.
The mission of CDC expanded beyond its original focus on malaria to include sexually transmitted diseases when the Venereal Disease Division of the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) was transferred to the CDC in 1957. Shortly thereafter, Tuberculosis Control was transferred (in 1960) to the CDC from PHS, and then in 1963 the Immunization program was established.
It became the National Communicable Disease Center (NCDC) effective July 1, 1967. The organization was renamed to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) on June 24, 1970, and Centers for Disease Control effective October 14, 1980. An act of the United States Congress appended the words "and Prevention" to the name effective October 27, 1992; however, Congress directed that the initialism CDC be retained because of its name recognition. CDC now operates under the Department of Health and Human Services umbrella.
Currently the CDC focus has broadened to include chronic diseases, disabilities, injury control, workplace hazards, environmental health threats, and terrorism preparedness. CDC combats emerging diseases and other health risks, including birth defects, West Nile virus, obesity, avian, swine, and pandemic flu, E. coli, auto wrecks, and bioterrorism, to name a few. The organization would also prove to be an important factor in preventing the abuse of penicillin.
The CDC has one of the few Biosafety Level 4 laboratories in the country, as well as one of only two official repositories of smallpox in the world. The second smallpox store resides at the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology VECTOR in the Russian Federation.
CDC’s 2008 budget was $8.8 billion. As of 2008, staff numbered ~15,000 (including 6,000 contractors and 840 Commissioned Corps officers) in 170 occupations. Almost 40 percent of staff have a master’s degree; 25 percent have a Ph.D.; and 10 percent have medical degrees. CDC job titles also include engineer, entomologist, epidemiologist, biologist, physician, veterinarian, behaviorial scientist, nurse, medical technologist, economist, Public Health Advisor, health communicator, toxicologist, chemist, computer scientist, and statistician.
In addition to the Atlanta headquarters, the CDC has 10 other locations in the United States and Puerto Rico. Those locations include Anchorage, Alaska; Cincinnati, Ohio; Fort Collins, Colorado; Hyattsville, Maryland; Morgantown, West Virginia; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Research Triangle Park, North Carolina; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Spokane, Washington; and Washington, D.C.
The CDC offers grants that help many organizations each year bring health, safety and awareness to surrounding communities throughout the entire United States. As a government-run department, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention awards over 85 percent of its annual budget through these grants to accomplish its ultimate goal of disease control and quality health for all.
At present, the President of the United States appoints the director. The appointment is automatic, and does not require approval by the Senate. The director serves at the pleasure of the President, and may be fired at any time. Sixteen directors have served CDC or its predecessor agencies.
On April 21, 2005 then-director of CDC, Dr. Julie Gerberding, formally announced the reorganization of CDC to "confront the challenges of 21st-century health threats". The four Coordinating Centers—established under the Bush Administration and Gerberding—"diminished the influence of national centers under [their] umbrella" and were ordered cut under the Obama Administration and Frieden in 2009.
The CDC Foundation operates independently from CDC as a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization incorporated in the State of Georgia. The creation of the Foundation was authorized by section 399F of the Public Health Service Act to support the mission of CDC in partnership with the private sector, including organizations, foundations, businesses, educational groups, and individuals.
The CDC campus in Atlanta houses facilities for the research of extremely dangerous biological agents. This setting was featured in the Dustin Hoffman film Outbreak, although the location depicted in the film was supposed to be the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases bio-research facility. The CDC figures prominently in the book "Ready to Go: The History and Contributions of U.S. Public Health Advisors" by B.E. Meyerson, F.A. Martich and G.P. Naehr (ASHA, 2008). The CDC labs figure prominently in the books "The Demon in the Freezer" and "The Hot Zone" by Richard Preston and "Virus Hunter" by C.J. Peters, former head of the Special Pathogens Branch at the CDC. The "Atlanta Plague center" which is in all likelihood a fictionalized version of the CDC appears in the Stephen King book The Stand.