1906 – Burney was born on the 31st of December in Burney, Indiana.
1924-1926 – He began premedical coursework at Butler University.
1928-1930 – He completed both undergraduate and medical training at Indiana University.
1932 – Burney applied for and was accepted into the PHS Regular Corps as an Assistant Surgeon.
1934 – Burney came up through the ranks of then-Surgeon General Thomas Parran, Jr.’s venereal disease control programs, receiving specialized training at the New York Marine Hospital and assisting in the management of rapid treatment centers around the country.
1937-1939 – Burney helped establish the first PHS mobile venereal disease clinic, in Brunswick, Georgio, bringing access to treatment for African Americans, whom Jim Crow segregation excluded from the predominantly white locations of other facilities.
1943-1944 – He served as Assistant Chief of PHS’s Division of State Relations, except for a five-month detail to the Navy, where he traveled to the Mediterranean on behalf of the War Shipping Administration, to address infectious disease problems affecting ports.
1945 – Burney continued his work with state and county health departments, directing PHS’s New Orleans district office.
1954 – Burney returned to PHS as an Assistant Surgeon General and Deputy Chief of the Bureau of State Services, overseeing grants-in-aid to the states while being prepared for leadership by then-Surgeon General Leonard A. Scheele.
1956 – When Surgeon General Scheele stepped down in August, President Dwight D. Eisenhower nominated Burney on a recess appointment, and was sworn in as Surgeon General on August, and later confirmed by the Senate in January 1957.
1959 – He was the first Federal official to publicly identify cigarette smoke as a cause of lung cancer, issuing statements that paved the way for his successor, Surgeon General Luther L. Terry.
1990 – Burney served as Vice President for Health Sciences at Temple University and on the Board of the Milbank Memorial Fund.
1998 – He died on the 31st of July in Park Ridge, Illinois.