James Curran, M.D.
Dr. James Curran of the CDC realized very early that AIDS was most likely an infectious disease and that there was a link between the early manifestations of the syndrome in the United States as cases of Kaposi's sarcoma and Pneumocystis cariniipneumonia. He is credited by Dr. Robert Gallo and many others at NIH with sparking their interest in doing research on this disease and was a key figure in the interactions between the CDC and the NIH in the two agencies' attempts to investigate and understand the cause and epidemiology of AIDS. He was also a leader in the efforts of the two agencies to develop an understanding of the international context of the AIDS epidemic.
Dr. Curran began his career with the CDC in 1971 in the Sexually Transmitted Disease Control Division, after holding research positions in public health departments in Tennessee and Ohio. He served as Coordinator for the CDC Task Force on Kaposi's Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infections from 1981 to 1982, set up right after the first reports were published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. As Dr. Curran noted, what was a three-month appointment on the task force became a fifteen-year commitment to fighting AIDS. He was involved in every aspect of tracking the epidemiology of the disease and of determining the most effective means to safeguard people from infection. Dr. Curran held positions of leadership in the CDC's HIV/AIDS Division until 1995. For his years of service, he received many United States Public Health Service Awards, and also in 1995 the Edward Brandt, Jr., Award from the National Leadership Coalition Against AIDS.
In 1995, Dr. Curran was appointed Professor of Epidemiology and Dean of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and Director of the Emory Center for AIDS Research, an NIH-funded Center.