Reimert T. Ravenholt, MD MPH, President, Population Health Imperatives
Seattle, Washington,, fax 206-528-1833

EPIDEMIOLOGY – the study of distributions and determinants of diseases in human populations – has during the last half-century emerged from obscurity into the main stream of the biological and social sciences. The word, epidemic, derived from the Greek words epi and demos, meaning upon people, was during many centuries used to denote the sudden appearance and rapid increase in diverse infectious diseases: influenza, smallpox, the Black Death of plague, syphilis, malaria, yellow fever, tuberculosis, cholera, typhoid fever, scarlet fever, diphtheria, poliomyelitis, and, most recently, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). But with the massive increases in mortality from cancers and atherosclerotic and other degenerative diseases of aging during the 20th Century, epidemiology was increasingly applied to the study of non-infectious diseases. Today it is applied to the study of occurrence of any disease in a human population.

My career in epidemiology began in 1952, when following graduation from the University of Minnesota Medical School and completion of my internship in the US Public Health Service Hospital in San Francisco I was invited by Dr Alexander Langmuir to join the Epidemic Intelligence Service of the National Communicable Disease Center, United States Public Health Service, for two years of training and service. After initial training at CDC in Atlanta, I was assigned to the Ohio State Health Department a year; then to the Seattle-King County Health Department, where I served during eight years.

Under Langmuir’s inspired leadership, the EIS of CDC rapidly became "the most seminal, adventurous and effective epidemiology program the world has known." And during many years it was my good fortune to participate in the investigation and control of numerous fascinating epidemics of infectious and non-infectious diseases, domestically and globally, in what became The Golden Age of Epidemiology. Accounts of my Adventures in Epidemiology can be accessed by clicking on items of interest on the following pages,










Reimert Thorolf Ravenholt, born and reared on a Wisconsin dairy farm and publicly schooled at Milltown, West Denmark, and Luck, received a Medical Doctorate from the University of Minnesota, a Master of Public Health degree from the University of California (Berkeley), and gained extensive research, administrative and teaching experience in epidemiology, public health, population and family planning as: Epidemic Intelligence Service officer, CDC/USPHS, 1952-1954; Director, Epidemiology and Communicable Disease Control Division, Seattle-King County Health Department, 1954-1961; Epidemiology Consultant, European Region, U.S. Public Health Service, American Embassy, Paris, France, 1961-1963; Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine, University of Washington, 1963-1966; Director, Office of Population, U.S. Agency for International Development, Department of State, Washington, DC, 1966-1979; Director, World Health Surveys, Centers for Disease Control, Washington, DC, 1980-1982; Assistant Director for Research and Epidemiology, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Rockville, Maryland, 1982-1984; Chief, Epidemiology Branch, Food and Drug Administration, Rockville, Maryland, 1984-1987; President, Population Health Imperatives, Seattle, Washington, 1987-present.

While directing major public health and population programs he also researched extensively, publishing more than 200 scientific reports on epidemiological investigations, preventive medicine, public health, population/family planning, malignant cellular evolution, tobaccosis, America’s shattered child plague/needed welfare reform and historical epidemiology. Many published articles, some unpublished reports, and   miscellaneous memoranda and letters can be accessed on this Web.

During the 14 years Dr Ravenholt directed the global population/family planning assistance program of the U.S. Agency for International Development, it became the world’s foremost population program: providing more than half of all international population/family planning program assistance ($1.3 billion) during those years. In 1971 he originated the World Fertility Survey, "the largest international social science research program ever undertaken". WFS derivative surveys now accurately track birth and death rates in the less developed world.

Notable honors received include the Distinguished Honor Award of the U.S. Agency for International Development "In Recognition of His Distinguished Leadership in the Development of Worldwide Assistance Programs to Deal with the Challenge of Excessive Population Growth"; The Hugh Moore Memorial Award from the Population Crisis Committee and the International Planned Parenthood Association for "Innovation and Vision in the Population Field"; and the Carl Schultz Award of the American Public Health Association for "Distinguished Service to the Field of Population and Family Planning".

Licensed physician in Washington State, Board Certified in Preventive Medicine, a Fellow of the American Public Health Association, he serves on the Board of the American Council on Science and Health, and is a member of the Cosmos Club.



This Website is Copyright © 1998 - 2008, R.T. Ravenholt, All Rights Reserved.


To those young minds seeking to know what they would wish to become, Adventures in Epidemiology is dedicated. My aim in constructing this account of my life’s work is to provide a sufficiently interesting and detailed account of epidemic challenges encountered, investigations performed, and public health accomplishments during the past half-century, that many young persons will explore their opportunities for epidemiology careers. Bon Voyage!




Epidemic Intelligence Service, National Center for Communicable Disease Control, U.S. Public Health
Service, 1952-1954, (Atlanta, Ohio, Seattle).
Becoming an Epidemiologist - Learning by Doing
Director, Division of Epidemiology and Communicable Disease Control, Seattle-King County Health
Department, 1954-61. (School of Public Health, University of California,  1955-56, MPH).
Seattle Community Epidemiology

Seattle Psittacosis Study 1954, First RTR epidemiologic study in Seattle

University of California - Malignant Cellular Evolution

Staphylococcal Disease: An Obstetric, Pediatric and Community Problem: A  Pioneering  Study,  AJPH, 1956

Epidemiology and Prevention of Nursery-Derived Staphylococcal Disease: Seattle, NEJM, 1957

Armed Forces Epidemiological Board Conference, Washington, D.C. - April, 1957

Staphylococcal Infections in the Hospital and Community: Hospital Environment & Staphylococcal Disease,

Staphylococcal Infections in Meat Animals and Meat Workers -- Poultry Pluckers and Hog Cutters, PHR 1961

History, Epidemiology, and Control of Staphylococcal Disease in Seattle - AJPH, November 1962

Spread of Micro-Organisms From Hospital to Community: Nursery-infected Newborns the Principal Vehicle

Mortality Impact of Asian Influenza, Seattle - King County, KCMB 1958

Polio Immunization Planning Conference - Seattle-King County, May 14, 1959

Poliomyelitis in an Immunized Community: Seattle, 1959, PHR 1961

Poliovirus Excretion by Preschool Children During an Epidemic: Seattle, 1959, AJDC 1962

Poliomyelitic Paralysis and Tonsilectomy Reconsidered - AJDC 1962

Investigation of Seattle Swimming Waters and Health, 1958 and 1959

History, Epidemiology, and Control of Typhoid Fever in Seattle MT 1964 & Stated causes of death, 1890 and 1960

Seattle's Triumph Over Typhoid - The Seattle Times, April 9, 1961

Food Poisoning Investigations in Seattle  - Seven outbreaks: Seattle Yacht Club; Olympic Hotel; Botulism

Seattle-King County Diphtheria: Eradication by Immunization of Virtually All Children

School Immunization Program, 1959 - Seattle King-County Health Department

School Immunization Program, 1960 - Seattle King-County Health Department

Immunizable Disease Occurrence and Prevention in Seattle: Historical Records of Immunizations- PHR 1965

Epidemiology and Treatment of Lung Cancer in Seattle - 1930-35 & 1950-55 - A Case for Prevention, JDC 1963

Seattle Community Epidemiology: Annual Report, 1960: Opportunities and Satisfactions of Public Service

Epidemiology Consultant, European Region, U.S. Public Health Service, American Embassy,
Paris, France, 1961-63.

European Epidemic Adventures: Smallpox in Yorkshire, Wales, West Germany

International Symposium on Smallpox Vaccination - Lyon, December 1962 Lyon, December 1962

An Epidemiological View of Europe - University of California SPH Publication, 1962

Smallpox - Stockholm, Sweden    1963

Typhoid at Zermatt - 1963

Report of Trip to Basel - July 16, 1963

Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine, University of Washington Medical School, 1963-66.
Chronic Disease Epidemiology

Malignant Cellular Evolution: An Analysis of the Causation and Prevention of Cancer  The Lancet, 1966

Diagnostic Dose Radiation Hazards: A Challenge to Epidemiologic Research and Preventive Action, 1957

Cigarette Smoking: Magnitude of the Hazard - Published Estimate of 250,000 U.S. Tobacco Deaths in 1962

Lung Cancer Was One-Sixth of Total Tobacco Disease Mortality in 1962 - Health Sciences Report, April, 1964

Measurement of Smoking Experience - Charting Lifetime Smoking Experience (NEJM) 1964

Smoking by Teachers and Students of Health Sciences - University of Washington, 1964

Smoking Experience of Seattle 12th Grade Students, 1965 - More Cigarette Smoking by failing Students

Smoking and Achievements of Teenagers, Washington Education - November, 1965

Smoking During Pregnancy, The Lancet - May 1, 1965

Smoking Effects Upon Human Reproduction: Results of  Precise Epidemiological Studies in Seattle-1966

Polonium 210 in Tobacco: The most Devastating Cause of Tobaccosis: NEJM  July 29, 1982

Cigarette Dangers for Gravidas Highlighted, OB-GYN News - January, 1986

Tobacco Addiction And Other Drug Abuse by American Youth - Cigarettes a Gateway to Other Addictions

Tobacco's Impact on Twentieth-Century U.S. Mortality Patterns: 500,000+  U.S. Tobaccosis Deaths in 1980

Tobacco Addiction and Tobacco Mortality: Implications for Death Certification - November 23, 1984

Addiction Mortality in the United States: 1980 - Tobacco, Alcohol, and Other Substances

Cell to Organism: Tobacco's Influence on Development - San Francisco Conference, October 15, 1985

Tobacco's Global Death March - First Published Use of Term Tobaccosis for All Tobacco-Caused Diseases

Tobacco's Bitter Harvest - First Published Estimate of 600,000+ U.S. Tobaccosis Deaths in 1996

Cholesterol or Cigarettes? - Cigarettes the Main Cause of the Atherosclerosis CVD Pandemic

Breast Cancer Prevention - Raloxifene, Tamoxifen, and Surgical Enucleation Will Cut Breast Cancer Mortality

California Chiropractors - An Epidemiological Study of Causes of Death Among Them

APHA, Epidemiology Section Newsletter by Secretary R.T. Ravenholt - April, 1966

Director, Office of Population, U.S. Agency for International Development,  Washington, DC, 1966-1979.
World Population Crisis: Challenge and Resolution of the Global Humanosis Pandemic

Statements by President Johnson concerning Population Crisis, compiled by Sen. Ernest Gruening, 1965 - 1967

AID's Family Planning Strategy. Science  January 10, 1969

Population Control: USAID Program Leaps Forward. Science  February 9, 1968
This article is Copyright © 1969 American Association for the Advancement of Science, used with permission.

World Population Crisis and Resolution: Taking Contraceptives to the World's Poor - Creation of USAID's Population Program, 1965-1980

Creation of USAID Appendix A    Creation of USAID Appendix B    Creation of USAID Appendix C Creation of USAID Appendix D    Creation of USAID Appendix E    Creation of USAID Appendix F

Statement by R.T. Ravenholt to the U.S. Congress on Population Program Status,  1969

Use of Oral Contraceptives: A Decade of Controversy, Int'l J Gyn & Obs. 1970

Oral Contraceptives and Prevention of Cancer of the Uterus and Breast, October 1972

India's Population/Family Planning Program - A 50 Million Dollar Memo, 1969

William H. Draper, Jr: Population Leader Supreme, 1966 - 1974

Senator William Fullbright: A Man For All Seasons

Report of Trip to India - January, 10, 1967

Report of Round-the-World Trip, October  1970 - Japan, Philippines, India, Pakistan

The Power of Availability: Application of this Public Health Principal to Fertility Control

Maximizing Availability of Contraceptives Through Household Distribution, 1976

Cost Benefit Ratio Memo: Fertility Control Enables Rapid Economic Development, 1976 

Family Planning Adopter Incentives, A Strategy to be Avoided, 1976

Winning the Battle Against Overpopulation - The Futurist:  April, 1976


Loan Funding of Family Planning Commodities, A Programming Mechanism to Avoid, 1975

AID Contraceptive Supply Program by the Office of Population - Bill Boynton, 1975-1978

Loans Threaten Development Assistance Programs  A Letter to President Clinton

World Fertility Survey: Origin and Development of the WFS: World-leading USAID Data Program, 1984

Thirty Years of USAID Efforts in Population and Health Data Collection, June 3, 2002

Rapid Epidemiologic Assessment  For Improved Guidance of Health Programs in LDC's, CDC/NAS   1982

World Fertility Patterns - 1974: Emerging Evidence of Rapid Fertility Decrease by Family Planning Programs

Availability of Family Planning Services: Key to Rapid Fertility Reduction,  1974

Plan for Achieving Village & Household Availability of Contraceptives & Health Medicaments, 1975

Demographic Implications of Adolescent Reproduction: Prevent Teen-age Reproduction, in  Adolescent Fertility - 1977

USAID Population Program Progress, 1976

Family Planning Program Success in Indonesia - February 13, 1978

Travel to Thailand - Program Status, 27 February 1978

Voluntary Sterilization Services Development - USAID Funded Laparoscope Placements

Development of the KLI Laprocator System, 1976-1977

Use of Surgical Laparoscopy for Fertility Management Overseas, Endoscopy in Gynecology, AAGL, 1978

Voluntary Sterilization Training Program Funds - June, 1978

"The Philadelphia Story" - 16 January, 1979

Population Controller to Fight Catholic Suppression of U.S. Population Program - June 6, 1979

Ravenholt Commentary on Mumford NSSM 200 Book - March, 1996

Population Program Assistance, USAID, 1965-1979, RTR Testimony to U.S. Congress - April 15, 1979

USAID Office of Population Directors, 1965-2000

Family Planning in Developing Countries - A Decade of Progress, APHA New York City, Nov. 5 1979

Prospects for Voluntary Sterilization, Voluntary Sterilization: A Decade of Achievement, AVS, 1979

The Potential Demand for Voluntary Sterilization - J.W. Brackett and R.T. Ravenholt, 1979

Overseas Use of Surgical Laparoscopy - May, 1979

Do Family Planning Programs Work? Article by Stephen Rosenfeld, The Washington Post, 1976

A New Slant on the Population Crisis - by Stephen Rosenfeld, The Washington Post, 1978

China Used Peer Pressure to Cut Its Birth Rate in Half - The Seattle Times, November 25, 1978

Obstacles to Family Planning - 1994

R. T. Ravenholt, USAID's Population Program Stalwart, Population Today - October, 2000

Foremost Achievements of USAID's Population Program, 1966 - 1979

World Population Imperative: Taking Contraceptives To the World's Poor -- The Power of Availability, March 20, 1993

Constraints on AID's Population Assistance Program

Catholics Seize Control of U.S. Family Planning Programs - President's Carter, Reagan, Bush I and II

Africa's Population Explosion Catastrophe, March 1998

Africa's Population-Driven Catastrophe Worsens, June 2000

More on China - People (IPPF), 1977

China's Birth Prevention Success: The Washington Post  Dec. 26, 1978

China's Birth Rate: A Function of Collective Will, 1978

Randy Backlund Memorial, USAID Population Program Stalwart, 1967-1978

America's Shattered Child Plague: Results of Welfare Malpractice, 1993

Birth Surveys - Nevada, 1981

Multi-State Birth Surveys - Presented at Annual APHA Conference, November 4, 1981


U.S. Relinquishes Leadership on Global Population Control - Seattle P-I - June 21, 2003

Historical Investigations and Epidemiological Methods

Historical Disease Occurrence - Small Pox, Typhoid, Diphtheria, Poliomyelitis, Seattle, 1890-1960

Historical Epidemiology and Grid Analysis of Epidemiologic Data - AJPH  May, 1962

Medical Expense Limited - University Daily Article, 1965

Smoking During Pregnancy by Region and Country, IFRP, 1977-80

Reproductive Changes Between Generations in Nevada - November 2, 1981

1918 Influenza, Encephalitis Lethargica, Parkinsonism: The Lancet  October 16, 1982

Labeling and Patient Package Inserts for Oral Contraceptives - August 12, 1986

Encephalitis Lethargica. The Cambridge World History of Human Diseases, 1992

Poliomyelitis Experiences Reported in "A Paralyzing Fear", 1998

West Over the Seas To the Orient, Part B; Albert's Foremost Articles - August, 2004

Letter from Bob Camp Regarding "West Over the Seas" - May 5, 2005

Triumph Then Despair: The Tragic Death of Meriwether Lewis Epidemiology May, 1994
Reprinted with permission from Epidemiology Resources, Inc. and Williams & Wilkins.

Trail's End for Meriwether Lewis - The Role of Syphilis. COSMOS 1997

Doctor Backtracks on History to Settle Mystery of Explorer's Demise - The Washington Post

Self-Destruction on the Natchez Trace: Meriwether Lewis's Act of Ultimate Courage.
Columbia Magazine, Summer 1999, Washington State Historical Society

Underlying Cause of Death of Meriwether Lewis - Bozeman, MT, October, 2001

Did Stephen Ambrose Sanitize Meriwether Lewis's Death - HHN, April 8, 2002

The Death of Robert Louis Stevenson - The Underlying Cause

Tobacco's Human Costs: Regicide by Tobaccosis

Tuberculosis Control Assisted by Family Planning  J. Chronic Diseases,  1986

Epidemiology - The Ultimate Health Science: Without Esoteric Tests of Significance and Confidence, EIS Bulletin, CDC, Fall 1996.

Statistical Esoterica: The Quack Grass of Epidemiology: EIS Bulletin, CDC  Winter, 1997

Egregious Epidemiological Errors,  1997

Principles and Practice of Epidemiology: Avoid Statistical Esotericism

Notable Achievements in Epidemiology and Public Health - 1952-2002

Letters and News Articles Smorgasbord

Ravenholts of Wisconsin


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