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Wilbur G Downs Archives

Call Number: ENTAR.001850

Description of the Material

The archives of Wilbur G Downs include correspondence, lab notes and collecting information.


  • 1961-1990


Language of Materials

In English.


5 Linear Feet

Persistent URL


The Archives of Wilbur G Downs.

Biographical Sketch

Wilbur George Downs was a clinical professor of epidemiology and public health at the Yale University School of Medicine and an expert on tropical medicine. As a lieutenant colonel in the Pacific during World War II, Dr. Downs was chief of preventive medicine for the command in Okinawa. He was awarded the Bronze Star and also received several Presidential and military citations for his work with malaria and communicable diseases. After the war he was assigned by the Rockefeller Foundation to direct a malaria-control program in Mexico, where he was among the first to question the use of insecticides like DDT in trying to control the disease. In 1952, Dr. Downs was asked by the Rockefeller Foundation to establish a program in Trinidad investigating arthropod-borne viruses. He founded the Trinidad Regional Virus Laboratory, now the Caribbean Epidemiology Center in Port-of-Spain. There he trained arbovirologists and was part of a team that isolated and characterized more than 35 new viruses. In 1963 he negotiated the move of the Rockefeller Foundation Virus Laboratory from Manhattan to Yale University and became an associate director of the foundation. He was also director of the Yale Arbovirus Research Unit and professor of epidemiology at the Yale University School of Medicine. With his fellow scientists, he continued to isolate and characterize viruses, including the Lassa Fever virus, which was named for the Nigerian village where it originated, and was so virulent that it killed a laboratory worker in 1970, forcing a halt to research. He was a consultant to projects in the Caribbean, Asia and Africa, and a member or chairman of advisory committees for the World Health Organization, the United States Public Health Service, the State Department, the Department of Defense and the National Academy of Sciences. He was born in Perth Amboy, N.J., and graduated from Cornell University in 1935 and from Cornell University Medical College in 1938. He received a Master of Arts from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Heath and Hygiene in 1941. (Excerpted from NY Times Obituary, 20 Feb 1991)

Wilbur G Downs Archives
Edited Full Draft
Samantha Murphy
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History Repository

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