Today my colleague and friend, Eugene McCray, M.D., Director, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention (DHAP), National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention (NCHHSTP), is retiring after 35 years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is an honor to recognize the distinguished career and many contributions Eugene has made globally and in the United States.
Eugene began his career at CDC in 1983 as an officer in the US Public Health Service in the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS). He was instrumental in CDC's HIV prevention efforts from the early years of the epidemic in the United States. While serving as an EIS Officer, he expanded surveillance and led multiple investigations documenting occupational transmission of HIV in hospital healthcare workers. His early work paved the way for the complex HIV surveillance systems of today.
In 2000, Eugene became the Director of the Global AIDS Program (GAP). “I was thrilled when Eugene agreed to be the first director of GAP," said Dr. Helene Gayle, the first director of the National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention at CDC. "GAP led the way for PEPFAR and so its success had a lot riding on it. Eugene never failed to deliver!" Over the next four years, he led the establishment of CDC HIV programs in 25 countries across Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean/Latin America. Eugene was instrumental in establishing and implementing CDC’s efforts for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
I personally benefited from Eugene’s expertise, wisdom, and mentorship when he was my supervisor while I was stationed in Uganda for several years. He understood cutting edge science and used it to support creative and meaningful programs. He supported new research that would advance PEPFAR’s goals. He ensured it was conducted well and the results were used to benefit people in Uganda and worldwide.
When asked, Eugene shared that one of his most memorable experiences while working on PEPFAR was traveling with HHS Secretary, Tommy Thompson; CDC Director, Julie Gerberding; other high-level US Government (USG) officials; and 100 US dignitaries (politicians, pharma CEOs, religious leaders, researchers, clinicians, and community leaders). The group traveled through five countries in Africa to promote PEPFAR and showcase USG HIV/AIDS programs being implemented by the respective countries.
In 2014, I was delighted that Eugene was willing to take on the role of DHAP Director. He has led the Division through the engagement of new tools for HIV prevention, like PrEP, and the restructuring of its flagship funding for health departments. He also led the Division in the planning and implementation of HHS' Ending the HIV Epidemic Initiative. Eugene has been a thoughtful, inspiring, and dedicated leader of DHAP, guiding the Division and nation through challenging situations. He has been a great friend, a wise colleague, a passionate public health leader, and a man dedicated to making the world a better place.
Eugene is recognized globally as an expert in HIV/AIDS and TB and has dedicated most of his career to improving underserved communities' health in the United States and around the world. He has authored or co-authored numerous scholarly articles and received several awards for his scientific and public health contributions. In 2004, Eugene received the US Public Health Service's highest honor award, the PHS Distinguished Service Medal, and in 2007 CDC's William C. Watson Medal of Excellence Award.
Eugene's collaborative spirit and warm personality enable him to cultivate partnerships in his work and make friends all over the world. As he embarks on new adventures during retirement, I know he will continue to focus on communities in need and be an advocate for people with HIV and others who experience health inequities. I’d also like to thank Irene Hall, PhD, MPH, DHAP’s Deputy Director for Surveillance, Epidemiology and Laboratory Science, who will serve as the Acting Director until the permanent DHAP Director starts.