Dr. Wilhelm D Meriwether | Distinguished Alumni Award

College of Natural Science, Michigan State University (Attended) | M.D., School of Medicine, Duke University | M.P.H., Johns Hopkins University. He’s a retired director of the U.S. Public Health Service’s National Influenza Immunization Program, a Sports Illustrated-featured USA Outdoor Track…

Dr. Wilhelm D Meriwether | Distinguished Alumni Award

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College of Natural Science, Michigan State University (Attended) | M.D., School of Medicine, Duke University | M.P.H., Johns Hopkins University. He’s a retired director of the U.S. Public Health Service’s National Influenza Immunization Program, a Sports Illustrated-featured USA Outdoor Track and Field champion and a Spartan. Dr. Wilhelm Delano Meriwether began a life-long journey of extraordinary achievement by attending Michigan State University’s College of Natural Science as a pre-veterinary medical student, eventually becoming the first Black American to graduate from the Duke University School of Medicine. He was the United States 100-yard National Sprint Champion Outdoors (1971) and the 60-yard National Sprint Champion Indoors (1972), landing him on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Over the next three years, he was a member of the first two U.S. Track & Field National teams to travel to communist China. In 1976, he served as a White House fellow and special assistant to the Secretary of Health where he directed the National Influenza Immunization Program, immunizing 45 million people against Swine Flu. Meriwether served as one of six missionary physicians in Africa in the 1980s, treating over 500,000 people in apartheid-stricken South Africa and accommodating tens-of-thousands of refugees fleeing terrorist-fueled strife in Mozambique. Additionally, Meriwether and his wife were part of the successful, in-country efforts to free Nelson Mandela from prison. In 1986, Meriwether was a key member of a South African-based medical team that discovered the connection between folic acid deficiency and pregnancy anemia. This discovery subsequently led to the worldwide incorporation of folic acid into bread and all modern-day prenatal vitamins. He and his South African-born wife founded The Meriwether Foundation, an international, nonprofit, charitable, Global Health Organization that operates and supports philanthropic programs and human rights activities in Southern Africa. He says, ‘Growing up in the segregated South during the 1950s and attending Michigan State University in the 1960s helped prepare me to face the unique challenges of working in South Africa during the apartheid era. Michigan State helped prepare me for the future, and provided me with an outstanding, broad-based education. For that, I am an eternally grateful `proud Spartan.”

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