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Honorary Members
Hugh Smith Cumming
 

Hugh Smith Cumming was inducted into the Delta Omega Public Health Honorary Society as an honorary member in 1929 while serving as the Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service. He is noted for advances in medical inspection of immigrants for the prevention of further spread of contagious diseases, development of the Division of Narcotics (renamed the Division of Mental Hygiene), and the expansion of the original Hygienic Laboratory into the National Institute of Health.

Cumming, originally from Virginia, was a graduate of Baltimore City College, University of Virginia Department of Medicine, and the University College of Medicine (in Richmond, Virginia). He held two medical degrees! He began his career as an Assistant Surgeon at the Marine Hospital Service (the predecessor of the Pubic Health Service). As a young doctor, he was involved in many projects dealing with the health of immigrants coming to the United States. Cumming even served in Yokohama, Japan! A major occupation of Cumming was work as a sanitary advisor. During World War I, he studied ports in Europe to estimate the best manner in which to reduce and prevent disease contamination of the returning troops.

In 1920, Cumming became the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service. In this capacity, he served his country by developing the Public Health Service into a larger and more modern service. He continued work in immigration inspections by developing new plans that would limit the number of immigrants with infectious diseases arriving in the United States.

Under his tenure as Surgeon General, the Hygienic Laboratory in Bethesda, Maryland became the National Institute of Health. The Public Health Service as began caring for the medical and psychiatric health of federal prisoners. Unfortunately, also under his watch as Surgeon General, the Tuskagee Syphilis Experiment began in 1930. The experiment, which was "declared unethical and halted in 1973", left hundreds of African American males untreated for syphilis (www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/history/biocumming.htm).

Cumming served as President of American Public Health Association in 1931. After retirement from public service in 1936, he continued to work in the field of pubic health serving as the Directory of Pan American Sanitary Bureau. He died in 1948 in Washington, DC.

Source: 
http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/history/biocumming.htm. "Hugh Smith Cumming (1920-1936)."

 

 

 

 

 
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