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Heroes of Public Health

Carroll E. Palmer, MD, PhD

Dr. Palmer's research was applied to resolving the discrepancies previously found between the cause of tuberculin sensitivity and pulmonary calcifications. He found that the latter were commonly caused by histoplasmosis, a usually benign fungus infection prevalent in specific geographic areas.

As "dean of the world's tuberculosis epidemiologists," he conducted large-scale research on the diagnosis treatment and prevention of tuberculosis. Dr. Palmer spent the major portion of his career with the U.S. Public Health Service as director of research for the Child Hygiene Bureau. In 1942, he became director of the Tuberculosis Research Program of the Public Health Service.

Seven years later, Dr. Palmer was appointed director of the World Health Organization Tuberculosis Research Office. His subsequent studies demonstrated that most weak tuberculin sensitivities were the result of infection with atypical mycobacteria, endemic in many parts of the world. The mycobacteria were shown to have the capability to act as a natural vaccination against the disease.