George W. Comstock Lecture

Established in 2008 to honor Dr. George W. Comstock’s lifetime of work in public health and tuberculosis control, this annual lecture given by distinguished leaders addresses important public health issues in global tuberculosis control.

The 2024 George W. Comstock Lecture will be given by Neel Gandhi, MD on March, 22, 2023. Learn more here.


George W. Comstock (1915-2007), MD, DrPH
Professor Emeritus of Epidemiology
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

A physician-epidemiologist of unparalleled eminence in the field of tuberculosis control, Dr. Comstock was born in 1915 in Niagara Falls and earned his medical degree at Harvard. He later received his MPH from the University of Michigan and his DrPH from Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene & Public Health.

During World War II he served as a ship’s doctor and later joined the US Public Health Service Tuberculosis Program. He organized field trials to investigate the BCG vaccine in Muscogee County, Georgia and Puerto Rico, showing a low overall efficacy of BCG. As a consequence BCG was never formally adopted as a control strategy in the USA. In the mid-1950s Dr. Comstock organized one of the first cluster-randomized trials in medical history, a trial of isoniazid preventive chemotherapy in the Bethel region in Alaska, where a tuberculosis epidemic was ravaging the native population. After one year, tuberculosis incidence was reduced by 69% in the isoniazid households, and this benefit was sustained through 5 years of follow-up.

Dr. Comstock joined the faculty of the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, as it was then known, in 1962. In his 45 years as a faculty member, he taught and mentored hundreds of students who have gone on to leadership roles in public health and medicine. Although he officially retired in 2003 at the age of 88, he continued to teach his beloved “Epidemiologic Basis for Tuberculosis Control” course until just before his death.

previous George W. Comstock Lecturers

2008        Chris Dye, PhD

2009        Anthony Harries, OBE, MB BChiR, MD, FRCP

2010        Mario Raviglione, MD

2011        Richard Hayes, ScD

2012        Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH

2013        Peter Godfrey- Faussett, MBBS, DTM&H, FRCP

2014        Donald A. Enarson, MD

2015        Megan Murray, MD, MPH, ScD

2016        Jacques Grosset, MD

2017        Madhukar Pai, MD, PhD

2019        Christopher C. Whalen, MD, MS

2021        Ethel Leonor Noia Maciel, PhD

2022        Matteo Zignol, MD, MPH

2023        Mercedes C. Becerra, ScD