Our department’s longtime friend, colleague, and benefactor Dr. Eugene “Gene” J. Gangarosa, MD, MS, FACP ‘64, passed away on August 11, 2022, at the age of 96. Gene truly embodied compassion and commitment to improving the lives of others. His storied career spanned more than 70 years, and the results of his work on safe water initiatives has saved millions of lives and continues to have an impact. Please join the Gangarosa Department of Environmental Health as we look back and celebrate the life and many legacies of the department’s namesake, knowing that his example will continue to inspire us and ensure our success for decades to come.
Rollins Mourns the Passing of Dr. Eugene J. Gangarosa - M. Daniele Fallin, Ph.D., James W. Curran Dean of Public Health
Through their astounding generosity, the Gangarosas have had enormous impact – the school has rapidly emerged as a leader in safe water and sanitation, a focus of Dr. Gangarosa’s career, and other pressing public health issues. Now, they are launching a new phase for the department, which will allow us to further expand our reach as we train the next generation to tackle the daunting environmental challenges of the twenty-first century. We are deeply honored to be ambassadors of their vision of a healthy global environment for all.
Paige Tolbert, PhD
Former O. Wayne Rollins Chair in Environmental Health
A Storied, Distinguished Career
As a renowned physician, research scientist, educator, leader, and philanthropist, Dr. Gangarosa’s career in public health spanned over 70 years. During his 70-plus-year distinguished career in public health, Dr. Gangarosa made a name for himself through his numerous contributions to the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) field. His primary area of focus was enteric infections (the name for any disease caused by an intestinal infection, like cholera).
In his autobiography But Now They Are Angels: Reflections on my Life in Service to Public Health, Dr. Gangarosa explained that his passion for safe water and sanitation began early in life, after his mother lost four of her first five children to waterborne illnesses in her native Sicily. One of Dr. Gangarosa’s earliest exposures to WASH and global health as an adult was when he served as a supply sargent for the U.S. Army during World War II. Read More
Lasting Impacts as a Founding Father of the Rollins School of Public Health
In 1982, Dr. Gangarosa joined Emory to direct the Master of Community Health program (the precursor of the MPH program). As director from 1983 to 1990, Dr. Gangarosa worked to build the program and pave the way for the founding of Emory’s first new school in 72 years, the Rollins School of Public Health, in 1990. Working with William Foege, then Director of the CDC, and leaders at Emory, Dr. Gangarosa tripled enrollment by bringing CDC colleagues into the classroom to give students the best lecturers and insights the field has to offer. A resourceful administrator, networker, and budgeter, he turned a modest program into a thriving school of public health. For this achievement, Dr. Gangarosa received the Thomas Jefferson Award in 1991, Emory University's highest honor.
But giving rather than receiving was the foundation of Dr. Gangarosa’s career and his dedication to the Rollins School of Public Health and investment in the future of public health continued well after his term as director ended. Knowing the importance of hands-on experience, Dr. Gangarosa opened up opportunities for students to engage in global field experiences through the establishment of the Eugene J. Gangarosa Scholarship Fund, which supports travel for field research.
Dr. Gangarosa was also actively involved with the Center for Global Safe Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (CGSW), which was founded in 2004 through the generous support of Dr. Gangarosa and his wife Rose. Designed to address the critical public health problems attributed to lack of safe water, access to sanitation, and adequate personal hygiene in the developing world, the CGSW acts as an intersecting point for research, training, collaboration, and advocacy. The Center’s efforts were bolstered by Dr. Gangarosa and Rose’s decision to establish endowments for two academic chairs: the Eugene J. Gangarosa Chair in Safe Water and Sanitation held by Dr. Christine Moe and the Rose Salamone Gangarosa Chair in Environmental Health held by Dr. Tom Clasen. Read More
Awards and Distinctions
Today, Dr. Gangarosa is considered a public health legend, both as an expert and educator in the prevention of enteric diseases and as a visionary who believed that a school of public health could thrive at Emory. Thus, Dr. Gangarosa’s awards and distinctions are numerous. Learn about His Noteworthy Awards
Gene made sure that service, practice, and teaching were the cornerstones of the new school of public health and I have tried to follow his model and I always will.
Deborah McFarland, PhD, Professor
We know that our contributions represent only a few drops of water in an ocean of need… so, we look to others to help.