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George W. Comstock was born in Niagara Falls, New York. He earned his B.S. from Antioch College in 1937 and his M.D. from the Harvard University Medical School in 1941. He then received an M.P.H. in 1951 from the University of Michigan School of Public Health and a D.P.H. in 1956 from the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health. Comstock joined the faculty of the school of hygiene and public health in 1962 after serving as chief of epidemiologic studies for the tuberculosis program of the U.S. Public Health Service. In that capacity, he directed studies in Muscogee County, Georgia, and in Alaska that provided basic information on the incidence of tuberculosis, BCG vaccination, and isoniazid preventive therapy for tuberculosis. Since 1962, as director of the Johns Hopkins Training Center for Public Health Research in Hagerstown, Maryland, he was involved in numerous prospective studies of the risk of cancer associated with serum concentrations of micronutrients and hormones and with the presence of a number of genetic factors.

Scope and Content

The George W. Comstock Collection is concerned with his work for the International Tuberculosis Campaign in the 1940s and 1950s. This campaign was the first major disease control and research activity of the World Health Organization. The collection consists of three volumes: Mass BCG Vaccination Campaigns, 1948-1951; the International Tuberculosis Campaign, July 1948-June 1951 (First, Second, and Final Reports); and WHO Tuberculosis Research Office Selected Papers, 1949-1953. The reports were drafted by Dr. Johannes Holm of Denmark, who directed the campaign, and finished by Comstock after Holm’s death. The collection also includes a 45-page manuscript from 1984 entitled “History of the ITC” and a tuberculosis campaign bag that belonged to Dr. Lydia Edwards.

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