About Dr. Cornelia E. Davis

Dr. Cornelia E. Davis, better known as Connie, is an author, speaker, renowned epidemiologist, and disease detective. She was sent by the World Health Organization (WHO) to Ethiopia in 1990 to help African Ministries of Health prevent or control outbreaks of meningococcal meningitis. While working in Addis Ababa, she was caught up in the fast-moving civil war and stayed behind as Acting Director of the WHO EPR Centre when UN staff were evacuated. A series of events led her to a three-month-old infant found on the steps of St. George’s Cathedral. She described this exciting adventure in her memoir, Three Years in Ethiopia.

Connie was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, attended Gonzaga University, and was one of the first black women admitted to the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine (1968). After finishing a pediatric residency, she was hired by WHO to work in the Smallpox Eradication Program in India (1975-77). This highly successful program changed her medical focus and inspired her first book, Searching for Sitala Mata: Eradicating Smallpox in India.

Connie earned her Masters of Public Health (MPH) degree from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and went on to work in the EIS (Epidemic Intelligence Service) at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. For the next 30 years, she battled disease outbreaks in Africa and Asia for WHO and USAID. An intrepid world traveler, she has worked in or traveled to 97 countries and territories. She lives on the northern shores of Lake Chapala near Guadalajara, Mexico.


Check out this lovely poem made by Clint Rogers


2022 Alumni Humanitarian Service Award

University of California San Francisco School of Medicine honors Dr. Davis, who has made a transformative contribution to the world by helping making it a better place.






On December 22nd of 2019, Three Years In Ethiopia received a B.R.A.G. Medallion Award, a recognition given by indieBRAG to outstanding books that were published independently.







Three Years In Ethiopia received a rating of 4.7 stars, making it “IndieReader Approved,” a designation created to make it easier for readers and booksellers to identify quality indie titles.







As part of its 100th anniversary celebration, Alpha Sigma Nu (ΑΣΝ), the Jesuit Honor Society, is recognizing Dr. Cornelia Davis as one of its key 100 inductees.  Founded at Marquette University in 1915 by Fr. John Danihy, S.J., ΑΣΝ is naming its top 100 inductees to mark its centennial of honoring the students of Jesuit higher education who are most distinguished in scholarship, loyal to Jesuit ideals, and committed to serving others. [ view article ]




‘One Woman’s Mission: Eradicating Smallpox in India.’
Gonzaga Magazine 2015 

“Connie Davis (’67) still sounds surprised at her big break. She entered the world of international public health — with the World Health Organization, no less — just days after completing her residency in Los Angeles. She was 28.”




‘Smallpox hunter finally finds time, in Ajijic, to pen and publish memoir’
Guadalajara Reporter, Nov. 25 – Dec. 1, 2017 [ download ]

Local Guadalajara English newspaper highlights Connie Davis’s book, Searching for Sitala Mata: Eradicating Smallpox in India. \