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A Life Dedicated to Health and Wellbeing Across the Globe

A Life Dedicated to Health and Wellbeing Across the Globe

Eugene J. Gangarosa, MD, MS, EIS '65, is an internist with specialty training in clinical, laboratory, epidemiological and public health aspects of infectious diseases. He and his wife Rose have a long-standing passion for public health, including the establishment of an endowment through the CDC Foundation focused on safe water as well as other commitments to address health challenges.

Dr. Gangarosa's career focused on enteric infections and included service in the U.S. Army Medical Corps at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American University of Beirut and Emory University School of Medicine. He played a lead role in the evolution of Emory's graduate program that has become the Rollins School of Public Health for which he received the Thomas Jefferson Award, Emory University's highest honor.

His long and illustrious career can be traced back to his personal family story. In his autobiography "But Now They Are Angels: Reflections on my Life in Service to Public Health," Dr. Gangarosa explains that his family lost four children (Dr. Gangarosa's older siblings) when they were just toddlers in Italy, most likely because they lived in proximity to animals like chicks and ducks and were exposed to pathogenic organisms as they handled animals and crawled around animal feces. They had no home plumbing and no indoor toilet. Toddler deaths were not unusual in that era, but deaths—from not one, not two, not three, but four toddler deaths in succession raised questions about the competence of the mother. His mother's guilt and grief were profound and unfathomable. To comfort his mother for her tragic losses, the family priest reassured her with the words "but now they are angels" giving her a sense of purpose—as to why her angels died.

Dr. Gangarosa says, "I now see my deceased siblings as the better angels of my nature. I imagine my long departed siblings as guarding angels for all the unknown and unknowable children whose lives have been saved by public health initiatives acting through the many capable colleagues with whom I have worked."

"Despite the global progress in reducing child mortality over the past few decades, an estimated 5.3 million children under age five died in 2018. Improving child survival remains a matter of urgent concern. In 2018 alone, roughly 15,000 under-five deaths occurred every day, an intolerably high number of largely preventable child deaths*."

Fortunately, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals include reducing under-5 mortality dramatically by 2030.

Another related issue the Gangarosas care deeply about is safe water, which has a direct impact on child survival rates. Today, more than 780 million people worldwide do not have access to safe water and another 2.5 billion people lack proper hygiene education to help prevent illness and death from disease. To help address this health challenge, Dr. Gangarosa and Rose established the Gangarosa Endowment for Safe Water with the CDC Foundation to provide an ongoing source of support for CDC's safe water initiatives.

In 2016, the Gangarosas established a second fund, the Peggy, Paul and Ray Gangarosa Endowed Fund in honor of their children. Its purpose is to support priority epidemiological, global public health activities as identified by CDC.

To support their two funds, the Gangarosas have generously made the CDC Foundation a beneficiary of a life insurance policy. They will also support their funds beyond their lifetimes through their personal family foundation, the Gangarosa International Health Foundation. These generous and thoughtful gifts will enable the Gangarosas to protect health and save lives in perpetuity.

While they have made significant and incalculable contributions to public health around the world, Dr. and Mrs. Gangarosa are humble, gracious and kind people with a tremendous desire to help others.


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