Bethesda, MD (August 23, 2023)—Today marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) which will be commemorated with an elegant 50th Anniversary Gala in Washington, DC on September 14, 2023. Celebrating 50 years of education, prevention, and impact, the gala will recognize the work of NFID and the inspirational public health heroes who have helped protect the lives of millions.
NFID was incorporated on August 23, 1973 as a non-profit corporation by a small group of visionaries who believed that a national organization was needed to raise awareness about the impact of infectious diseases. NFID founders John P. Utz, MD, and Richard J. Duma, MD, PhD, of the Infectious Disease Division at the Medical College of Virginia were concerned that research grant monies were becoming scarce. At the time, the National Institutes of Health was ending some of its training grants, reallocating its priorities, and drastically cutting back extramural research funding. Many organizations were devoted to helping fund cancer, heart disease, cystic fibrosis, and other such problems, but no one seemed to pay any attention to infectious diseases, Duma recalled. “Why not create an infectious disease organization to help support and fund infectious disease research?”
Throughout its history, NFID has worked to raise awareness and educate and engage both the public and healthcare professionals about the importance of immunization across the lifespan. NFID professional education programs include the Annual Conference on Vaccinology Research, the Clinical Vaccinology Course, and complementary webinars on vaccine recommendations and other timely infectious disease topics. Public outreach initiatives include an annual news conference to kick-off cold and flu season as well as advocacy for public health recommendations on COVID-19, hepatitis B, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and other vaccine-preventable diseases.
“I first became involved with NFID almost 20 years ago because, in the course of my work as director of the National Immunization Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), I witnessed the vital role that NFID played in convening a wide range of multidisciplinary partners to speak with one strong voice on public health issues,” said Walter A. Orenstein, MD, who served as NFID president in 2016-2018.
NFID has been at the forefront of promoting awareness and education on infectious disease prevention and treatment across the lifespan. “Our mission is to help people understand the importance of protecting themselves, their families, and their communities, including staying up to date on recommended vaccines,” said NFID Medical Director Robert H. Hopkins, Jr., MD. “In an era marked by mistrust and misinformation, the role of NFID as a trusted voice has never been more important.”
One of the things that distinguishes NFID from other professional medical groups is the fact that NFID is not a membership organization. “It is a foundation dedicated to educating consumers and healthcare professionals of all types—doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and anyone who is associated with the medical profession,” said NFID spokesperson William Schaffner, MD, who served as NFID medical director from 2015 to 2023. Although NFID does not develop recommendations for the use of vaccines, antimicrobials, or other interventions, it works to educate healthcare professionals and the public about the recommendations made by CDC and other professional organizations. “We are essentially an amplification organization,” Schaffner said. “We have this broad educational role—a mandate really, that is the whole purpose of NFID—and an operational mode to bring people under one tent to give the information more standing and greater acceptance.”
That inclusivity of expertise is reflected in the current NFID Board of Directors, which includes the first pediatric nurse practitioner Patricia (Patsy) A. Stinchfield, RN, MS, CPNP, to serve as NFID president and the first pharmacist to serve as NFID president-elect, Jeffery A. Goad, PharmD, MPH.
“As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of NFID, we acknowledge that none of these successes would have been possible without the generous support of our donors and partners, and the dedicated efforts of NFID staff who continue to support NFID on a daily basis, working to ensure the far and wide impact of our work,” said Marla Dalton, PE, CAE, NFID executive director and chief executive officer.
NFID supporters and public health luminaries will gather in Washington, DC to celebrate the remarkable history and notable accomplishment at the NFID 50th Anniversary Gala. NFID will also launch the new 1973 Society to recognize major donors who support the organization’s vision of healthier lives for all through the effective prevention and treatment of infectious diseases. Additional information is available at www.nfid.org/50Gala. An NFID 50th Anniversary Commemorative Book that looks back at the history of NFID and celebrates the trailblazing efforts of NFID leaders and public health heroes over the past 5 decades is also available for purchase online.
About the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases
Founded in 1973, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to educating and engaging the public, communities, and healthcare professionals about infectious diseases across the lifespan. For additional information, visit www.nfid.org.
Contact: Diana Olson at email@example.com
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