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Proposed ten-year postwar program of the United States Public Health Service 1944
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Biographical Note

Thomas Parran, Jr. was born on September 28, 1892 and raised near St. Leonard's, Maryland, on his familys tobacco farm. He attended St. John's College in Annapolis (1911, A.B.; 1915, A.M.). Finances influenced his decision to attend Georgetown (1915, M.D.) and to follow with an internship at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C. A lifelong interest in research was sparked during medical school. He volunteered at a health laboratory operated by the District of Columbia, under Dr. Joseph J. Kinyoun, founder of PHS's Hygienic Laboratory (renamed the National Institute of Health in 1930). He received his Assistant Surgeon's commission in the PHS in 1917.

Parran's first leadership position was as Chief of PHS's Division of Venereal Diseases (September 1926), a program begun during World War One. At Franklin Roosevelt's request, Parran became New York state health commissioner in April, 1930. In 1936 President Roosevelt chose him to succeed Hugh Cummings as Surgeon General. His continued campaign for syphilis control culminated in the National Venereal Disease Control Act of 1938.

In addition to syphilis control, Surgeon General Parran left his mark on the scope and structure of public health, both at home and abroad. In response to wartime expansion and new opportunities for expanded duties, Parran and his deputies rewrote the statutes underlying PHS operations--the Public Health Service Acts of 1943 and 1944--establishing a four-bureau structure that would remain in place through 1967, and deftly arranged for the transfer of wartime research contracts from the Office of Scientific Research and Development, creating an extramural grants program for NIH.

Parran's leadership role in international health affairs dated back to the 1930s with the Rockefeller Foundation and the Pan American Health Organization. Parran chaired the International Health Conference where the World Health Organization (WHO)'s draft constitution was adopted (1946) and led subsequent U.S. delegations. He continued his work in philanthropy and public health until his death on February 16, 1968, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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