Some of the earliest endeavors of American philanthropy recognized health as a key component to human well-being. From reforming medical education to training public health workers and nurses, and later mobilizing new technologies toward better approaches in immunization, preventive care, and epidemiological research, foundations’ health programs have made major contributions to human health around the world.

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Medicine & Public Health

Funding a Sexual Revolution: The Kinsey Reports

What exists today as the well-known Kinsey scale was at mid-century a revolution in scientific understanding of human sexuality — and source of heated controversy ever since…

Medicine & Public Health

The Long Road to the Yellow Fever Vaccine

Rockefeller Foundation scientists, led by future Nobel Prize winner Max Theiler, developed a yellow fever vaccine in the 1930s that was later given to thousands of American and British soldiers during World War II. The serum drastically reduced the worldwide occurrence of yellow fever. Today it remains the only vaccine in use for the deadly virus. However, the road to creating the vaccine was long and bumpy…

Medicine & Public Health

The Commonwealth Fund Brings Hospice Care to America

Hospice, or non-cure-oriented care at the end of life, was a European concept. But the Commonwealth Fund boosted the US hospice movement by supporting its beginnings. The first modern American hospice opened in Branford, Connecticut in 1980, supported by Commonwealth and other foundations…

Medicine & Public Health

The “Insulin Gift”

In 1923, a large donation of funds by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., helped ensure the wide distribution of the newly mass-produced treatment for diabetes, insulin. John D. Rockefeller, Jr.’s gift, known as the “Insulin Gift,” also provided funds to train patients, nurses, physicians, and families to administer this new wonder treatment…

Medicine & Public Health

Photo Essay: The Rockefeller Sanitary Commission and the South

Hookworm disease, sometimes called the “germ of laziness” for its symptoms, was widespread in the US South at the turn of the last century. Yet the science of treatment was simple. The Rockefeller Sanitary Commission battled the disease and in the process developed a new model for public health work…