This is a synopsis of an article printed in the Washington Post about Thomas D. Dublin who died recently. He was a true public health leader who passed away recently. I hope that this posting will serve as a history lesson for public health professionals.
Thomas D. Dublin, 95; Epidemiologist, Health-Care Advocate
(By Matt Schudel, Washington Post, Sunday, May 20, 2007; Page C07)
Thomas David Dublin, 95, an epidemiologist who helped design early field trials of Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine and who became a medical director of the U.S. Public Health Service, died May 3 of congestive heart failure at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
During his long career, Dr. Dublin was an advocate for expanding health care for poor and underprivileged people across the country. In the 1940s and ’50s, he spoke of the need for health clinics in rural America and for minorities. Later, with the Public Health Service, he coordinated many studies with the National Institutes of Health to improve access to medical care.
While working as a consultant to the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis from 1953 to 1955, Dr. Dublin was enlisted as the medical field director to help test Salk’s experimental polio vaccine. Dr. Dublin designed and directed “double-blind” field trials to measure the efficacy of the vaccine against a placebo. The trials were conducted in a way that allowed polio patients who received placebos to be treated with the vaccine at the conclusion of the study.
Dr. Dublin came to Washington in 1955, when he was named medical director of the Public Health Service. A specialist in epidemiology, he was particularly concerned about controlling contagious diseases and broadening the nation’s health-care system.
In addition to his Public Health Service duties, he held several joint appointments as a senior scientist with the National Institutes of Health, including chief of the epidemiology and biometry branch of the National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases from 1960 to 1966. He also spent two years in Israel working on studies of risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease.
He was director of the Office of Health Manpower of the old Department of Health, Education and Welfare from 1968 to 1970 and consulted with other federal agencies and the American Medical Association before and after his retirement in 1976.
Dr. Dublin was born in New York on Jan. 18, 1912, and received his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College. He graduated from Harvard University medical school in 1936 and received master’s and doctoral degrees in public health from Johns Hopkins University, in 1940 and 1941, respectively.
He held a succession of teaching and research positions at Boston City Hospital, Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, New York’s Albany Medical College and the Long Island College of Medicine. He joined the Kingston Avenue Hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y., as an epidemiologist in 1943.
In 1948, Dr. Dublin was named executive director of National Health Council in New York. He used that platform to speak out against inequitable health care, noting that almost a third of U.S. communities lacked proper health departments. He urged both the federal government and local communities to develop plans to provide services for maternal and child care, sanitation, disease control and education.
“This situation is particularly regrettable,” he said in 1950, “because the importance of increasing the number of local full-time health departments in the nation’s medical care program is one thing on which everyone is in agreement.”
Dr. Dublin was a fellow of the American Public Health Association and a member of its governing council. He was a director of the American Board of Preventive Medicine’s National Board of Medical Examiners from 1961 to 1971 and was chairman of the certification committee of the American Board of Medical Specialists from 1972 to 1977. He also served on a public health advisory panel for the World Health Organization from 1954 to 1980.
Another of Dr. Dublin’s interests was the smooth integration of international physicians and specialists into the U.S. medical profession. He conducted an important study on the subject and helped shape policies to permit foreign medical specialists to work and study in the United States.
Dr. Dublin lived in Bethesda for many years and later in Washington. He contributed articles on international health and other issues to professional journals and kept up with developments in medicine until his death. Throughout his life, he was a mentor to younger medical professionals, including Nobel Prize-winner Baruch S. Blumberg.
His wife of 58 years, Christina Carlyle Dublin, died in 1997.
Survivors include two daughters, Sarah Dublin Slenczka of Nuremberg, Germany, and Barbara Dublin Van Cleve of Greensboro, N.C.; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.