Alden Henderson

2013 Distinguished Alumni Award

BS in medical technology, 1977, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
MPH in environmental health, 1982, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
PhD in pharmacology and toxicology, 1992, University of Arizona

Dr. Alden Henderson is an epidemiologist at the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. He uses his academic training and professional experience to control and prevent diseases in the U.S. and the world. He began his public health career in 1983 at the Hawai‘i State Department of Health, where he investigated disease outbreaks to identify their source and understand how people become ill and spread diseases. This helped to control outbreaks and prevent future outbreaks.

In 1992, he joined the prestigious Epidemic Intelligence Service at the CDC and received specialized training on identifying, responding to and controlling disease outbreaks. He investigated outbreaks of toxic hepatitis in North Dakota, rift valley fever in Nigeria, cholera in Vietnam and avian influenza in Thailand. He participated in the responses to Hurricanes Andrew, Iniki, Mitch, Opal, and Katrina, disasters due to the U.S. Midwest floods, the World Trade Center attack, a civil war in Brazzaville, and refugees in Tanzania, Kenya and Thailand. He was also involved in projects dealing with arsenic poisoning in Bangladesh, polio in Nigeria, polycythemia vera in Pennsylvania, endocrine disorders from toxic chemicals in Michigan, mercury poisoning in Peru, deaths due to the Chicago heat wave, deaths and illnesses due to an unknown illness in Vietnam, and deaths and injuries due to landmines in Afghanistan. In these activities, Henderson played a key role in determining the scope and magnitude of the problem, identifying factors that made people ill, and making recommendations to control the spread of disease.

From 2008 to 2012, the CDC posted Henderson in Southeast Asia to train physicians on how to identify and control disease outbreaks and operate programs that monitor the occurrence of disease. He helped start these training programs in Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam and was instrumental in starting a Center of Excellence for One Health in Thailand and an online journal that publishes articles on outbreaks and diseases in Southeast Asia. He continues these efforts from CDC headquarters in Atlanta for public health professionals in East Africa.

Henderson and his wife, Dr. Susan Maloney, have two sons and one daughter and live in Atlanta. They visit family and friends in Hawai‘i every year.

Tribute video produced by Tom Galli & Stacia Garlach. Mahalo to Joan Okai, Lloyd Nishimoto and Emma Kennedy. Special thanks to Dr. Henderson, Lloyd Nishimoto, Erin Henderson and Emma Kennedy for sharing photos, and to Benny Chong for permission to use music from Ukulele Jazz (2005).