Dr. Henderson is a Distinguished Scholar at the UPMC Center for Health Security and a Professor of Public Health and Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. He is Dean Emeritus and Professor of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and a Founding Director (1998) of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies. From November 2001 through April 2003, he served as the Director of the Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness and, later, as a Principal Science Advisor in the Office of the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Dr. Henderson’s previous positions include: Associate Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President (1990-93); Dean of the Faculty of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health (1977-90); Director of the World Health Organization’s global smallpox eradication campaign (1966-77); and Chief of the Surveillance Section of the Epidemiology Branch of the Centers for Disease Control (1961-66).
In 2002, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. In 2015, he was awarded Taiwan's Prince Mahidol Award for Public Health, and in 2013 he was presented with the Order of the Brilliant Star with Grand Cordon, the highest civilian honor awarded by the Republic of China (Taiwan). He is the recipient of the National Medal of Science, the National Academy of Sciences’ Public Welfare Medal, and the Japan Prize. He has received honorary degrees from 17 universities and special awards from 19 countries.
Dr. Henderson serves as an advisor to many organizations in the United States and abroad. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an Honorary Fellow of the National Academy of Medicine of Mexico, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London, an Honorary Member of the Royal Society of Medicine, and a Fellow of a number of professional medical and public health societies.
In June 2009, Prometheus Books published a book by Dr. Henderson entitled Smallpox: Death of a Disease. It is a personal account of the challenges, obstacles, and disasters faced by an intrepid international program in achieving the global eradication of smallpox.
Dr. Henderson is Editor Emeritus of the peer-reviewed journal Health Security (formerly Biosecurity and Bioterrorism). Additionally, he has authored more than 200 articles and scientific papers and 31 book chapters and is coauthor of the renowned Smallpox and Its Eradication (Fenner F, Henderson DA, Arita I, Jezek A, and Ladnyi ID. 1988. Geneva: World Health Organization), the authoritative history of the disease and its ultimate demise.