Jerome Cochran, MD*
Called the “Father of Alabama Public Health,” Dr. Jerome Cochran served Alabama as its first state health officer from 1879 to 1896, and became the foremost medical figure in Alabama during the post-Civil War period. His lifelong mission was to assure provisions of adequate public health for all. A native of Holly Springs, Mississippi, Dr. Cochran came to Mobile in 1865. There he gained a national reputation as a quarantine physician during the 1873 yellow fever epidemic. Later as state health officer, he spent most of his lifetime fighting outbreaks of yellow fever, smallpox, typhoid, diphtheria, and cholera. It was said that Dr. Cochran’s knowledge and his methods of preventing epidemics through the laws of quarantine predated scientific findings of his day by 20 to 40 years.
A man of immense intelligence and energy, he is credited with developing a cohesive, professional, state medical association; establishing a state health department run by medical professionals; establishing the boards of medical examiners; and raising the standards for medical education and medical writing. The Medical Association of the State of Alabama established the Jerome Cochran Lecture Series in his honor.