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Last Updated

13 Jul 2003

Source: Associated Press, May 3, 2002.

Anti - Bioterror Chief Steps Down

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A man who led the campaign to rid the world of smallpox is stepping down as head of the campaign to protect Americans from bioterrorism.

Donald A. Henderson is being succeeded as director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness by Jerome M. Hauer -- one of his former students at Johns Hopkins University. Hauer was chief of New York City's emergency management under former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

The federal office was created in October during the anthrax-by-mail attacks. The government saw the need for a coordinated defense against the range of biological terror threats -- including the risk that the smallpox virus Henderson had helped confine to the laboratory could come back to haunt the world.

Henderson's fight against smallpox on behalf of the World Health Organization was won in 1977 and made him a hero in public health circles.

Henderson, 73, had agreed when taking over the office to stay as chief for six months, Tommy Thompson, the health and human services secretary, said Friday in announcing the switch in directors.

He said Henderson will continue to serve as his principal scientific adviser on bioterrorism and chairman of the secretary's council on public health preparedness.

In launching the office, Henderson aimed to help cities develop plans for vaccinating and distributing antibiotics to large numbers of people, create regional laboratories capable of handling bioterrorist material and put together around-the-clock reporting systems between hospital emergency rooms and state health departments, among other goals.

Such work will be carried on by Hauer. Thompson credited him with creating the country's first bioterrorism response plan while he served as New York City's director of emergency management.