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PR- 159-05
April 27, 2005


Seven former Health Commissioners, from 1969 – 2002, Return for Bicentennial Commemorative Events

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden celebrated the 200th anniversary of New York’s public health agency.  Seven former Health Commissioners, spanning 35 years of leadership, joined DOHMH staff and Board of Health members today to commemorate the bicentennial of the creation of the New York City Board of Health, the forerunner to today’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) at a reception in the Governor’s Room at City Hall.

“The dedication of our Health Department and our exceptional health care institutions have made New York one of the healthiest large cities in the world,” said Mayor Bloomberg.  “As we look back at our public health accomplishments of the past two centuries, we also remain vigilant as we protect and promote the health and safety of New Yorkers and make our City
even healthier.”

Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Frieden were joined by Dr. Mary McLaughlin (1969-1971), Dr. Joseph Cimino (1972-1974), Dr. Pascal Imperato (1977-78), Dr. David Sencer (1981-1986), Dr. Woodrow Myers (1990-91), Dr. Margaret Hamburg (1991-1997), and Dr. Neal Cohen (1998-2002). 

“Today, New York City celebrates two hundred years of leadership in public health,” said Commissioner Frieden.  “Our distinguished public health history began in the early 1800s when the city controlled epidemics of Yellow Fever and cholera.  In the early 1900s, the Department opened the first public health laboratory that applied bacteriological knowledge to prevent and control disease.  In the late 1900s, the Department implemented model programs to fight new and emerging infectious diseases. And in the century just begun, we have launched programs to prevent and control major chronic diseases. It is an honor to continue the legacy of so many dedicated Commissioners and public health professionals.”

In addition to today’s celebrations, DOHMH is partnering with other institutions on a Bicentennial exhibit and lecture series. DOHMH also produced a commemorative booklet, Protecting Public Health in New York City: 200 Years of Leadership, which is available online at
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is one of the world’s largest public health agencies, with 6,000 employees and an annual budget of $1.5 billion. The Department's divisions encompass mental hygiene, disease control, environmental health, epidemiology, health care access and improvement, health promotion and disease prevention, administration, and financial and strategic management.


Edward Skyler / Jordan Barowitz   (212) 788-2958


Sandra Mullin/ Andrew Tucker   (212) 788-5290

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