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date: 29 March 2020

Drew, Charles Richard locked

(1904–1950), pioneering blood plasma scientist, surgeon, teacher.
  • Spencie Love


Born in Washington, D.C., Charles Drew graduated from McGill University Medical School in Montreal in 1933, ranking second in a class of 137. During a two-year fellowship at Columbia University's medical school (1938–1940), he did research on blood banking, setting up Presbyterian Hospital's first blood bank, and became the first African American to receive the doctor of science degree. Drew served as medical director of the Blood for Britain Project in 1940 and also of a 1941 American Red Cross pilot project involving the mass production of dried plasma. Drew's work proved pivotal to the success of the Red Cross's blood-collection program, a major life-saving agent during World War II. In 1941 Drew became chairman of Howard University's department of surgery and chief surgeon at Freedmen's Hospital, where he worked tirelessly to build Howard's surgical residency program. Between 1941 and 1950 he trained more than half ...

A version of this article originally appeared in The Oxford Companion to United States History.

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