Founding and History of the Edward Jenner Society

Gregory A. Poland, MD first initiated the idea for the Jenner Society.  In the spring of 2008 Dr. Poland contacted Andrew Morgan, PhD, who had recently published a brief history of Dr. Jenner’s scientific life, and shared his idea and vision of developing a learned academic society devoted solely to the interests of vaccinology, and to the memory of Dr. Edward Jenner.  Dr. Morgan shared enthusiasm for this idea, and in July 2008 Dr. Poland traveled to England in order to meet with the Trustees of the Edward Jenner Museum, at his home in Gloucestershire, England.  In addition to the Trustees, Sarah Parker (curator of the Museum), Dr. Andy Morgan, and Dr. Floris DeHon (Executive Editor of the journal Vaccine) were all present and heard Dr. Poland’s presentation on the proposed mission, vision, and founding of the Jenner Society.  There was unanimous enthusiasm for the Society, and it was agreed that the group would work together to advance the Society.  The next two years were spent in discussions about the Society.  By early 2009 a letter describing the Society was sent to several hundred prominent vaccinologists around the world in order to gauge interest in such a society.  Tremendous enthusiasm for the idea was evident, persuading Drs. Poland and Morgan to formally proceed with the formation of the Society.  With the full support of all concerned, in June 2010, Drs. Poland and Morgan published a commentary in the journal Vaccine, announcing the founding of the Society, and encouraging inquiries and membership.  In August 2010, Drs. Poland and Morgan were invited to attend the World Health Organization’s Global Conference commemorating and celebrating the 30th anniversary of the eradication of smallpox.  At that conference Dr. Morgan gave a brief presentation on Dr. Jenner’s life, followed by Dr. Poland’s presentation on the goals and founding of the Edward Jenner Society, and inviting membership inquiries. The Society and its goals will be highlighted in a plenary address given by us at the global conference in Rio de Janeiro in August 2010 commemorating the eradication of smallpox.  Information about the conference can be found at:

The motto of the Edward Jenner Society "eradens contagionem" was selected after much discussion. Finally, after the excellent input of Phillip Powell (MA Oxford, Head of the Latin Classics Deparment at Dauntsey’s School), the current motto was selected in July, 2010. We are indebted to Mr. Powell for his contribution to the Jenner Society.

The headquarters of the Jenner Society will temporarily be at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.  Once successfully launched, the plan is to move the headquarters to the Edward Jenner Museum in Berkeley, Gloucestershire in the UK, which was Jenner’s home and where Jenner conducted his famous vaccination experiments.  We believe that the Jenner Museum will provide a unifying historical, geographical and “spiritual” focus for this international society and the trustees of the museum are enthusiastic about a joint venture with the proposed Jenner Society.

In 1897, in response to anti-vaccine opposition, physicians in England developed a society, called the Jenner Society in memory of Dr. Jenner, with the goal of educating other physicians and the public on the importance of smallpox vaccine.  With increasing acceptance and use of the vaccine the Jenner Society gradually faded away.  The article discussing the Jenner Society from 1897 can be found here: The Edward Jenner Society.