A picture of Senator Tom Harkin
Thomas H.
Former Democrat IA
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    Remembering Dr. Stephen B. Thacker

    by Former Senator Tom Harkin

    Posted on 2013-03-06

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    HARKIN. Mr. President, I rise today in honor and memory of Stephen B. Thacker, MD, MSc, RADM/ASG, retired, USPHS, who passed away on Friday, February 15, 2013.

    Dr. Thacker was a true public health hero whose long and distinguished career at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began as an Epidemic Intelligence Service, EIS officer in 1976. On his first day, he was sent out on an investigation of an unknown illness, which turned out to be the first recognized Legionnaire's epidemic. Throughout his 37 years at CDC, Dr. Thacker was a leader of public health science and the professionals who practice that science. Programs under his leadership introduced thousands of professionals to careers in public health and brought epidemiology directly into middle school and high school classrooms. He was instrumental in launching the field epidemiology training programs in more than 35 countries.

    In all of the many position he held, Dr. Thacker was a steadfast champion of epidemiology, public health surveillance, and the development of a global public health workforce. Programs developed or expanded under his leadership have introduced thousands of professionals to careers in public health. Given all this, it is no surprise that Dr. Thacker's accomplishments were recognized through more than 40 major awards and commendations throughout his career, including the Surgeon General's Medallion, which he received just 2 weeks before his death.

    Dr. Thacker's accomplishments were only exceeded by his treatment of all persons with dignity, honesty, and respect. His career has embodied the best of CDC's commitment to science and, most importantly, to service.

    I offer my deep condolences to Dr. Thacker's family. Mr. President and colleagues, please join me in honoring the memory of Dr. Steve Thacker. I believe there is no question that his important influence on public health will continue well into the future.


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