Hermann Biggs

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Hermann Biggs
BiggsHermann Cannes1920.jpg
Hermann Biggs at the Cannes Medical Conference 1920
BornSeptember 29, 1859
DiedJune 28, 1923(1923-06-28) (aged 63)
Alma materNew York University School of Medicine
Scientific career
public health
InstitutionsMetropolitan Board of Health

Hermann Michael Biggs (September 29, 1859 – June 28, 1923) was an American physician and pioneer in the field of public health who helped apply the science of bacteriology to the prevention and control of infectious diseases. He was born in Trumansburg, New York.

Educated at Cornell University and Bellevue Hospital Medical College, he became lecturer and professor of pathological anatomy in the latter institution in 1885. From 1892 to 1901 he was pathologist and director of the bacteriological laboratories and thereafter was general medical officer of the New York Department of Health. In 1897 he was appointed professor of therapeutics and clinical medicine, and in 1907 associate professor of medicine in the University and Bellevue Hospital Medical College. In addition to his other duties he assumed the directorship of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, upon its organization in 1901.

Impressed by what Lillian Wald’s public health nurses were able to achieve in reducing school absenteeism due to communicable diseases that could be treated at home, Biggs, who was responsible for New York City's health employed nine nurses in Manhattan – the first school nurses to be employed in any city in the United States. This led to his adding public health nursing to the municipal machinery for the control of tuberculosis.

In 1913 he was chief of a board of experts appointed to make an investigation of health conditions in New York State, and in 1914 he became State Commissioner of Health for New York. He was appointed medical director of the General League of Red Cross Societies at Geneva in 1920 and was knighted by the King of Spain for services in preventive medicine. His publications include The Administrative Control of Tuberculosis (1904) and An Ideal Health Department, with C. E. A. Winslow (1913).

In the early years of broadcasting, Biggs was among the first medical experts to have a radio program. He broadcast over station WGY in Schenectady NY on Friday nights during much of 1922, discussing common diseases and illnesses. [1]


Hermann Biggs name as it appears on the LSHTM Frieze
Hermann Biggs name as it appears on the LSHTM Frieze

Biggs' name features on the Frieze of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Twenty-three names of public health and tropical medicine pioneers were chosen to feature on the School building in Keppel Street when it was constructed in 1926.[2]

A commemorative marker at his birthplace in Trumansburg was erected in November 2019.[3]


  1. ^ "Health Talk." Cincinnati Post, March 30, 1922, p. 2.
  2. ^ "Behind the Frieze". LSHTM. Archived from the original on 2017-02-22. Retrieved 2017-02-21.
  3. ^ "Restoring Biggs House, birthplace of America's 'Father of Public Health'".

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