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Wade Hampton Frost

Wade Hampton Frost is often considered to be the father of modern epidemiology.

Born in 1880, Frost earned his medical degree from the University of Virginia in 1903. Two years later, Frost was commissioned as a medical officer in the Public Health Service. He served first in Baltimore and then in New Orleans where he helped combat the nation's last yellow fever epidemic. In 1908, Frost was assigned to the Hygienic Laboratory (the Laboratory ultimately became the National Institutes of Health). There, Frost participated in field investigations of typhoid and polio epidemics. With the outbreak of World War I, Frost was assigned to the Red Cross.

In the wake of the 1918 influenza pandemic, Frost embarked on a massive epidemiological study of the pandemic. Joining forces with Edgar Sydenstriker, a statistical economist, Frost investigated the impact of the pandemic on eighteen different localities in the United States. Frost's work on the pandemic was among the earliest to be published and it provided public health experts with some insight into the pandemic.

Following his success in this field, Frost took a position as a professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University. In 1928, he resigned his commission with the Public Health Service to serve full time as the head of the department of epidemiology at Hopkins. While there, Frost conducted field investigations on diseases ranging from diphtheria to tuberculosis. More importantly, Frost published a landmark paper which set the boundaries of modern epidemiology. This paper definitively demonstrated that epidemiology was an analytical science closely integrated with biology and medical science.

Frost died of cancer in Baltimore, Maryland on April 30, 1938.

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