Wade Hampton Frost
Wade Hampton Frost
Frost, a dean and professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, was born in Marshall, Virginia. His father served as a Confederate surgeon during the Civil War and he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and enter the field of medicine. Frost received his B.A. in 1901 and his M.D. in 1903 both from the University of Virginia.
In 1905, Frost was commissioned as assistant surgeon in the Public Health and Marine Hospital, now the Public Health Service. The following year, he assisted in the first successful arrest of a yellow fever epidemic in the United States. He was promoted to past assistant surgeon in 1909 and surgeon in 1917. Frost was sent to the hygienic laboratory (forerunner of the National Institutes of Health) in 1909 and became interested in epidemiology and contributed to the research of poliomyelitis. Frost remained at the laboratory until 1913 when he was placed in charge of the stream pollution laboratory in Cincinnati. He assisted in field investigations involving typhoid and water pollution by applying his knowledge of microbiology laboratory technigues.
During World War I, he was appointed director of the bureau of sanitary service of the American Red Cross and during the 1918 influenza epidemic was placed in charge of the studies of the disease by the Public Health Service.
In 1919, Frost was assigned by the Public Health Service as the first resident lecturer in the department of epidemiology at the newly opened Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health. He was promoted to professor in 1921 and served as chair of the department from 1919 to 1938. Frost resigned from the Public Health Service in 1929 in order to devote all of his time to Hopkins. He was appointed dean of the School of Hygiene and Public Health in 1931 and served in this capacity until 1934.
Over the course of Frost’s career, he studied the epidemiology of poliomyelitis, influenza, diphtheria and tuberculosis. Frost authored sixty-three publications on these subjects and was the author of Epidemiologic Studies of Polyomyelitis. One of the reasons that he focused on tuberculosis as part of his research is that he was diagnosed with incipient pulmonary tuberculosis when he was in his thirties and had to spend several months in a sanatorium. Frost was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the American Public Health Association and the American Medical Association. He emphasized development of the epidemiological method in the investigation of disease and is often considered the father of modern epidemiology.