As part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) works both to investigate the causes of disease and to combat epidemics. It traces its origins to an Act signed by President John Adams in 1798. This Act created the Marine Hospital Service, a network of hospitals intended to serve the nation's merchant marines. In 1873, a ‘Supervising Surgeon General’ was named to oversee the Service, and in 1889, the Commissioned Corps, a uniformed and mobile division of medical officers, was created.

During the late 19th century, the growth of trade, travel, and immigration networks led the Service to expand its mission to include protecting the health of all Americans. To reflect this change, the Marine Hospital Service was ...

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