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Fred Lowe Soper Papers 1919-1975
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Biography

Biographical Note

Dr. Fred L. Soper (1893-1977) was born in Hutchinson, KS. He received his AB in 1914 and his MS in 1916 from the University of Kansas. He received his MD degree from Rush Medical College of the University of Chicago in 1918. Later at Johns Hopkins University, he obtained a CPH in 1923 and a PhD in Public Health in 1925.

Dr. Soper joined the International Health Division of the Rockefeller Foundation in 1920 and engaged in the hookworm campaigns in Brazil (1920-1922) and Paraguay (1923-1927). From 1927-1942 he was Regional Director of the International Health Division headquartered in Rio de Janeiro, and was active in the study and control of yellow fever and malaria throughout South America. His guiding principles were strict discipline and tenacious commitment to eradicating disease. He developed methods to eradicate the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the urban vector of yellow fever. With the help of his Rockefeller colleague Dr. D.B. Wilson, Soper used a modification of this technique to eradicate the Anopheles gambiae mosquito from Brazil in 1939 and 1940. After its original invasion of Brazil in 1930, this malarial epidemic encompassed an area of over 18,000 square miles and was the worst of its kind in the Americas.

During World War II, Dr. Soper was Consultant on Epidemic Diseases to the Secretary of War (1942-1946). He initially served on the U.S. Typhus Commission and then became head of the Rockefeller Foundation Health Commission Typhus Team in North Africa and Italy (1943-1944). In 1944 he organized a malarial control demonstration in Italy, which provided the first evidence of the value of residual DDT in controlling malaria in the Mediterranean. Also, his revolutionary technique of delousing fully clothed individuals helped end the typhus threat in the civilian populations of North Africa, in British and American troops in Italy, and was used after the war throughout Europe. At the end of the war, and shortly thereafter, he headed yellow fever projects as Regional Director of the International Health Division for Africa and the Middle East, working to eradicate Anopheles gambiae from Egypt. Dr. Soper represented the Rockefeller Foundation at the IX, X, and XI Pan American Sanitary Conferences in 1934, 1938 and 1942.

In 1947, Soper was elected Director of the Pan American Sanitary Bureau (now the Pan American Health Organization) and was re-elected for three terms (1947-59). His involvement helped turn a relatively inactive program into a dynamic and rapidly growing one. He facilitated the Bureau's acceptance of a new role, as Regional Office of the World Health Organization for the Americas. This brought new facility to embark on new campaigns against communicable diseases, as well as bringing together previously independent teams of nurses, dentists, sanitary engineers, veterinarians, and statisticians to international public health work.

Throughout his distinguished career, Dr. Soper served on many international public health commissions. He also published over 120 books and articles. For his life-long contributions to medicine and public health, Dr. Soper received many significant awards, most notably the 1946 Lasker Award.

Honors and Medals

  • Professor Leon Bernard Medal
  • Segwick Memorial Medal
  • National Academy of Medicine, Rio de Janeiro
  • Pan American Medical Society, 1962
  • Walter Reed Medal, 1934 (Awarded in 1972)
  • Fourth International Congresses on Tropical Medicine and Malaria, Washington1948
  • Salus Populi and Brazilian Ordem do Merito Medico
  • Asociacion Fronteriza Mexciana-Estadounidense de Salubridad (ribbon), 1949
  • Consejo Consultivo de la Cuidad de Mexico y Del D.F.
  • Jacobus Bontius 1592-1631 Praedux ille tropical artis medicinae
  • Municipalidad de Lima
  • National Academy of Medicine, Rio de Janeiro, 1929
  • II Congreso Panamericano de Pediatria (Mexico)
  • ICAO, OACI, 1st Assembly Montreal1947
  • Delegate to X Conferencia Sanitaria Panamericana, Bogota, 1938
  • Pro Salute Novi Mundi, Buenos Aires, 1947
  • Salud: Simbolo de Fraternidad Americana, Conferencia Sanitaria Panamericana, Santiago, Chile, 1954
  • Tercer Congreso Pan-Americano de Oftalmologia
  • Conferencia Sanitaria Panamericana, 1950
  • Primera Reunion Interamericana de Tifo, Mexico, D.F., 1945
  • Medals from Dominican Republic
  • Director, Pan American Bureau, 1947-1959
  • Pan American Conference on Sanitation, Caracas, 1946
  • Orden Carlos J. Finlay, 1928
  • U.S. of America Typhus Commission Medal
  • Samuel J. Crumbine Medal, 1964
  • IX Congreso Pan Americano Del Nino Caracas, 1947
  • Louis Pasteur Medal
  • Theobald Smith Medal
  • Colombia Medal
  • Lascarette Award (Mrs. Soper), 1959
  • Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars, 1971
  • Universidad de Antioquia, 1947
  • Lasker Award, 1946
  • Rockefeller Foundation, 1934
  • Congreso Internacional de Microbiologia, 1950
  • American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (50th Anniversary), 1953
  • Conferencia Sanitaria Panamericana
  • Organizacion Panamericana de la Salud
  • Primer Congreso Venezolano de salud publica y tercera conferencia de unidades sanitarias, Caracas, 1954
  • Decima Conferencia Interamericana, Caracas, 1954