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Eugene W. Fowinkle, MD, MPH

Commissioner July 8, 1969 – January 14, 1983

Eugene Wesley Fowinkle M.D., M.P.H.was born September 2, 1934, in Memphis, He earned earned his medical degree at the University of Tennessee, College of Medicine, interned with the City of Memphis hospitals and was a resident in Neurosurgery at Baptist Hospital, Memphis. Convinced that his calling was in public health, he earned a Masters of Public Health degree at the University of Michigan in 1962. Dr. Fowinkle was certified by the American Board of Preventive Medicine. He began his career in public health as Director of Communicable Disease Control at the Memphis-Shelby County Health Dept. and became Director of that department in 1966. In 1969, Dr. Fowinkle was appointed Tennessee Commissioner of Public Health, serving as the state's chief public health official under four governors: Buford Ellington, Winfield Dunn, Ray Blanton and Lamar Alexander. In 1983 he became Associate Vice-Chancellor for Health Affairs and Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University, where he served until his retirement in April 1999.

Active in state, regional and national health policy, Dr. Fowinkle chaired the Tenn. Coalition for School Health Education and the Tenn. Select Committee on Health Care Cost Containment in the mid-1980's. He was a member of the President's Commission on Three Mile Island Task Force on Public Health and Epidemiology in 1979 as a result of his leadership in the study of pre-distribution of potassium iodide as a radiation-preventive measure. He served on the Programs and Policies Advisory Committee of the Centers for Disease Control, National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, the Board of Directors of the Professional Examination Service, and the Milbank Memorial Fund Commission on Higher Education in Public Health. He was a member of the Governing Council of the American Public Health Association, the Board of Regents of the American College of Preventive Medicine, and President of the American Association of Public Health Physicians 1972-73.

Among the honors he received were Distinguished Service Awards from the Tenn. Medical Association, UT College of Medicine Alumni Association; Tenn. Public Health Association, and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. He was named Tennessee Man of the Year in 1967 by the United States Jaycees. He authored and collaborated on numerous articles and publications dealing with a broad range of public health issues including environmental health, epidemiology, immunization and state and local health service delivery and policy.

He died Aug. 26, 2011.