Alumnus Donald Hopkins works to end the scourge of Guinea worm

A New York Times profile of HSPH alumnus Donald Hopkins, MPH ’70, describes his impressive efforts to battle Guinea worm disease and his prior involvement with the eradication of smallpox. Former deputy director and acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1984-87), former assistant professor of tropical public health at HSPH, and currently vice president for health programs at the Carter Center, Hopkins has played a lead role in the Guinea worm eradication effort since 1986. At that time there were 3.5 million cases of the disease worldwide; now there are fewer than 600.

Another prominent HSPH alumnus—William Foege, MPH ’65, also a former CDC director and a major player in the war on smallpox—told the Times that Hopkins is “one of the most tenacious people you’ll ever find.”

Hopkins, who won an HSPH Alumni Award of Merit in 2012, said he doesn’t get discouraged about the long years of fighting diseases. He recalled a man he met in India 25 years ago who said, “ ‘We’re never going to get rid of smallpox here.’ ”

“But we did,” Hopkins told time Times. “So I’m sort of immunized against skepticism.”

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