The American Academy of Tropical Medicine was founded on February 6, 1934, at a two-day conference in Washington, D. C., attended by 41 representatives of 35 medical institutions and other agencies interested in tropical medicine. The meeting was held under the auspices of the Division of Medical Sciences of the National Research Council and was made possible by a grant from the American Leprosy Foundation, whose President was Mr. Perry Burgess. The moving spirit in the conception and organization of the Academy was Earl Baldwin McKinley, then, at 39 years of age, Dean of the School of Medicine of George Washington University.
McKinley was a man of both vision and action, who had already had a breadth of experience rarely matched by a man of his years. Born in Emporia, Kansas, he received his M.D. degree from the University of Michigan in 1922, meanwhile teaching bacteriology and biochemistry.