Lung Association Honors Legacy of First President Dr. Trudeau through Continued Efforts to Support Lung Health, Defeat Lung Disease

As the oldest American voluntary health organization, the American Lung Association was founded in 1904 by Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau, the first president of the Association and a pioneer in advancing the science on Tuberculosis (TB). Today, in honor of his birthday and the upcoming centennial of his death on November 15, 1915, the American Lung Association recognizes and celebrates his legacy.

Tuberculosis, also known as consumption or the white plague (due to the extreme paleness of those affected), is a disease caused by bacteria that usually attacks the lungs, and was once the leading cause of death in the United States. The American Lung Association was first founded as the National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis (NASPT), and Dr. Trudeau stated that this national association should be something more than a medical society devoted to the study of tuberculosis. Driven by the idea that citizens could do something about tuberculosis, the American Lung Association was the first to combine the energies of physicians and laypersons in the fight against death and disease.

“Tuberculosis was the most feared disease in the world, known as the ‘Great White Plague,’ the disease was striking down the young and old, the rich and poor,” said Harold P. Wimmer, President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “Dr. Trudeau devoted his life to a cure for tuberculosis, and through serving as a founder and the first president of the Lung Association, he led the way in successfully tapping into America's spirit of community that inspires us to work together for better health and longer life for all.”

Over a difficult 50-year fight, the Association played a critical role in developing and funding increasingly effective weapons to prevent, detect and treat the disease. Along the way, the organization launched the Christmas Seals® campaign, the first "direct mail" fundraiser that has become an enduring symbol of the power of volunteers to battle disease. Through these efforts, treatment for TB was developed, and the disease is now largely controlled in the United States, but still a tremendous problem worldwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013 there were 1.5 million TB-related deaths in the world.

“TB control in the U.S. is a success story that highlights the importance of education and funding promising research,” Wimmer said. “Trudeau’s legacy is the power of connecting with people and communities to recognize that something must be done to save lives, and the Lung Association continues to do this today, with a vision of a world free of lung disease.”

Having recovered from tuberculosis himself, Dr. Trudeau later created Saranac Laboratory, the first state-of-the-art laboratory in the United States built exclusively for research on tuberculosis. Through his research, he found that tuberculosis was not inherited, but communicable and, therefore, preventable; and that in its earlier states curable.

“In 1904 it was a revolutionary concept—a nationwide organization to fight a single disease, but bold action was required to address tuberculosis, the leading cause of death in the United States at that time,” Wimmer said. “And our work is not yet done. Today, lung cancer is the number one cancer killer of both women and men, and the American Lung Association has made defeating lung cancer a strategic imperative of the organization.”

Aimed at raising awareness and funding research for the treatment of lung cancer, the Lung Association has launched the LUNG FORCE initiative.

“We continue to honor Dr. Trudeau’s legacy by being bold. Our work will not end until we achieve our mission—a world free of lung disease.”

To learn more about the history of the Lung Association, and its current efforts to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, visit


About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit the newly redesigned website:

For more information, contact:

Allison MacMunn
[email protected]

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