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Article

Theodore Cohen

was born on 20 January 1908 in Tlacotalpan, Veracruz, to Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán, a medical doctor, and Pilar Beltrán Luchirí, the descendant of Ignacio María Luchichí, a well-known writer in the surrounding Papaloapan basin of southern Mexico. Though born into an elite family with no African ancestry, Aguirre Beltrán had a major impact on how we understand the African heritage of Mexico. In addition, he was interested in social issues, had an affinity for anarchism, and read scholars such as Georg Friedrich Hegel and Karl Marx. In 1921 he moved to Mexico City to continue his preparatory studies, and in 1927 he enrolled in medical school at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (National Autonomous University of Mexico). Having finished his thesis, “El metabolism basal en lasnefrosis” (Elemental Metabolism in Nephrosis), he graduated in 1931. He married Judith Avendaño, and they had five children.

After finishing medical school Aguirre ...

Article

Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán was born and received his primary and secondary schooling in Veracruz, where there was a strong African influence, before studying medicine in Mexico City. In the 1920s and 1930s intellectuals such as José Vasconcelos undertook pioneering studies of Indians in Mexico, whose culture and history had largely been viewed with disdain until then. The studies resurrected a degree of interest in and dignity for Indian heritage. Although Vasconcelos argued that much of indigenous culture should be subsumed in a larger Mexican culture, Aguirre Beltrán believed that indigenous cultures were worthy of study for their own sake. After graduating from the University of Mexico with a medical degree, Aguirre Beltrán returned to Veracruz, where he held a post in public health that further sparked his interest in Indian ethnicity and history. In 1940 he published two studies on the ethnohistory of colonial and precolonial Indians in ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Togolese medical doctor and politician, was born on 2 September 1913 in Lomé, the capital of the West African German colony of Togo. His parents belonged to a Ewe-speaking community. His father, Andréas Aku, was the first Togolese head of the Protestant Church of Togo and had been ordained by German missionaries. His mother was Caroline Aku.

Naturally, Aku attended Protestant missionary schools in Lomé from 1920 to 1928 The German Protestant pastor Gottfried Stoevesandt was so impressed with Aku s intellectual ability that he invited him to attend secondary school in Germany His relatively poor but influential parents agreed For the handful of Togolese students able to continue their education in Europe between World War I and World War II the medical field was the most attractive subject of their studies Aku passed the German baccalaureate examinations and then with the support of the Bremen Protestant mission entered ...

Article

South African surgeon who carried out the world’s first human-to-human heart transplant, was born into an impoverished Afrikaner family at Beaufort West, South Africa, on 8 November 1922. His father, the Reverend Adam Hendrik Barnard, was a clergyman of the Dutch Reformed Church for Coloured, or mixed-race, people, and his mother was Maria Elisabeth de Swart. He was educated at Beaufort West High School before training as a doctor at the University of Cape Town’s medical school, where he graduated MB, ChB, in 1945. Having done his internship at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, he worked for a short time as a rural general practitioner in Ceres, in the western Cape, before returning to Cape Town to become senior medical officer at City Hospital and then registrar at Groote Schuur Hospital. In 1953 he gained his MD for his dissertation The Treatment of Tuberculosis Meningitis Later ...

Article

Amilcar Priestley

was born in St. Lucy, Barbados, on 15 November 1916. She was the second child and eldest daughter of her parents’ five children. Her father was the Reverend Reginald Barrow, a controversial Anglican priest who gave sermons against racism and social stratification, which resulted in his dismissal from his post in St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands. Her mother was Ruth O’Neal Barrow, sister of Dr. Charles Duncan O’Neal, who was the founder of the Democratic League and is regarded as a national hero of Barbados. After attending primary school in St. Croix, where her father had a congregation, she entered St. Michael’s Girls’ School in Barbados—the island’s first high school to accept girls—in 1928. After graduating in 1934 she began a career in nursing first at the Barbados General Hospital then as a midwife at Port of Spain General Hospital in Trinidad and later as ...

Article

David McBride

physician and public service and church activist, was born Leonidas Harris Berry on a tobacco farm in Woodsdale, North Carolina, the son of the Reverend Llewellyn Longfellow Berry, general secretary of the Department of Home and Foreign Missions of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, and Beulah Harris. Leonidas acquired the desire to become a doctor at the age of five, when a distinguished‐looking local doctor treated a small wound on his foot. The young boy was impressed by this “miraculous” event. His aspiration to go to medical school intensified while he was attending Booker T. Washington High School in Norfolk, Virginia. In 1924 Berry graduated from Wilberforce University and went on to obtain the SB in 1925 from the University of Chicago. In 1930 he also received his medical degree from the University of Chicago s Rush Medical College Berry continued his medical training earning an MS ...

Article

Julia A. Clancy-Smith

Tunisian physician, was born to an old, well-known family of Tunis. Her widowed mother played a pivotal in her education starting from primary school. Both Tawhida and her sister were enrolled in the School for Muslim Girls, an academic institution prized for its first-class education, which had opened in 1909 in the family’s neighborhood. During the 1920s in Tunis while Bin Shaykh attended secondary school the feminist movement took off and was marked by a watershed event in 1924 Manubiya Wartani a young Tunisian woman attending a public conference devoted to the question of feminism and women s rights removed her veil and stood up in the crowd to make a speech At about the same time Bin Shaykh had a chance encounter that would utterly change the course of her life she made the acquaintance of a respected French physician Dr Etienne Burnet and his Russian wife Lydia ...

Article

Kennetta Hammond Perry

Concerns about healthcare have represented some of the most pressing issues facing black communities, and the pioneering efforts of the psychologist Nancy Boyd-Franklin have been an important contribution to the search for new solutions to meet these needs. Boyd-Franklin is an internationally renowned psychologist specializing in issues affecting black families and communities. She has been instrumental in developing new therapeutic ap- proaches that expand the range of treatment options available to address the mental health of black Americans.

Nancy Boyd-Franklin was born in Harlem, New York, to Regina and Rudolph Boyd Regina a teacher and Rudolph a police officer had moved to Harlem from the island of Jamaica and North Carolina respectively When Nancy was very young her parents impressed on her the value of education In the Boyd home education was seen as a tool that one should use to better the community This philosophy led Nancy ...

Article

Miriam Sawyer

Bragg, Janet (24 March 1907–11 April 1993), aviator, nurse, and nursing home proprietor, was born Janet Harmon in Griffin, Georgia, the daughter of Cordia Batts Harmon and Samuel Harmon, a brick contractor. The Batts family had long been established in Griffin. Bragg's maternal grandfather was a freed slave of Spanish descent, and her maternal grandmother was a Cherokee. Bragg's grandfather had built the house in which she and her siblings were born; her mother had been born in the same house. Bragg, the youngest of seven children, had a happy childhood, enjoying sports and games and excelling at school. In an interview conducted at the University of Arizona as part of a project called African Americans in Aviation in Arizona, Bragg reminisced: “We were a very happy family. We were not a rich family, only rich in love.”

Independence was encouraged in the Harmon household The children ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Chadian medical doctor, was born on 16 June 1956 in the eastern Chadian city of Abéché Her parents were Brahim Djadarab and Fatimé Fadoul She had four siblings her brother Issa Michel and her sisters Khalié Sadié Ibni Oumar Mahamet Saleh and Rakié The entire family attended primary school in Abéché and Brahim excelled in her education Her family supported her studies and she completed her secondary education at the Lycée Franco Arabe at Abéché Her father pressured her to study English but she found the language impractical in eastern Chad Even so she learned the language which would later prove to be extremely useful when she lived in Canada Her commitment to school impressed her Chadian and foreign teachers Missionaries and her family also strongly encouraged her Since there were no final classes to prepare for the baccalaureate examinations in Abéché in the early 1970s she had to ...

Article

nurse, affectionately known as “Cherry,” was born Eumeda Powis in the largely rural parish of Clarendon, Jamaica, on 16 January 1939. Her father, Ferdinal Powis, was a farmer. Her mother’s name and occupation are unknown. She attended the Collington and Crooked River Schools in the parish, and later, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, she went on to receive a tertiary education in Great Britain, attending Trafford College and Manchester Polytechnic. Her studies at the tertiary level established her in the field of healthcare, in which she had a distinguished career. She married Arthur S. Byfield and gave birth to two children while residing in Britain for over thirty years. It was here that Byfield did extensive work in nursing. Nursing was not her only passion, however. She was committed to community development in both Britain and her home county of Jamaica.

Byfield took refuge in her work ...

Article

Edwin Corena Puentes

was born in the city of Cali, Colombia, to Alicia Angulo and Héctor Caicedo, parents of African descent. From a very young age, he demonstrated in his math classes a strength for defining realities with numbers. He went to high school at the Colegio Antonio José Camacho, then completed his undergraduate studies at the Universidad del Valle, where he earned a degree in electronics engineering in 2005. During those years of training, he began to contribute to research projects in topics such as information services and thin-film technology. For his academic performance and discipline, he was advised by researchers at the university’s Escuela de Electrónica (Electronics School) to participate in the creation of a digital electrocardiograph system. In more common terms, this is a cardiovascular diagnostic procedure that is commonly utilized in modern medicine.

Caicedo s passion for research and innovation in the field of applied technology for curing ...

Article

Hilary Mac Austin

Maude Callen was a nurse-midwife, known today because she was the subject of a Life magazine photo-essay by the famed photojournalist W. Eugene Smith. In her lecture at the Radcliffe Institute entitled “Black before Brown: Education, Health, and Social Welfare Professionals in the South, 1930-1954,” Darlene Clark Hine noted of Callen, “She became the first African American woman in United States history to be featured in a mainstream white publication that did not telescope her body or sexuality.” The 3 December 1951 essay entitled “Nurse Midwife: Maude Callen Eases Pain of Birth, Life, and Death” shows that Callen was an exemplary human being: strong, tireless, brave, committed, and indomitable. It also shows that Callen essentially ran her own private social service agency for the poor of her community. What the essay did not show, could not show, in a mainstream, conservative publication such as Life except by ...

Article

Born in Tuskegee, Alabama, Nathaniel Calloway was a man of many talents. He started his career as a chemist, graduating from Iowa State University (then College) in 1930 and earning his Ph.D. in 1933. After publishing influential research and teaching at both Tuskegee Institute and Fisk University, Calloway decided to enter medical school. In 1940 he enrolled at the University of Chicago, but, denied the opportunity to treat white patients, he transferred to the University of Illinois, from which he received his M.D. in 1943.

After World War II (1939–1945)—during which he conducted research on recuperation theories—Calloway worked at Provident Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, ultimately becoming its director. In 1949 he founded an all-black group practice, and throughout the next fifteen years he combined his medical work with civil rights activism. From 1955 to 1960 Calloway served as president of the Chicago ...

Article

Dennis C. Dickerson

physician and political activist, was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, the son of George E. Cannon and Genevieve Wilkinson. His father was a prominent and politically connected physician who graduated from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and the New York Homeopathic Medical College. His mother, a teacher, was descended from a leading Washington, D.C., family that had been free before the Civil War. Cannon and his sister, Gladys, grew up in an eighteen-room red brick house on a main Jersey City thoroughfare where their parents regularly received a retinue of prestigious visitors, including Booker T. Washington, numerous doctors from the all-black National Medical Association, and several Republican Party officeholders. Cannon greatly admired his father and emulated his professional and political involvements.

At his father s alma mater Lincoln University a Presbyterian institution Cannon performed acceptably but without academic distinction He scored well enough in his premedical courses however ...

Article

Thomas O. Edwards

pediatric neurosurgeon, was born Benjamin Solomon Carson in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Robert Carson, a minister of a small Seventh-Day Adventist church, and Sonya Carson. His mother had attended school only up to the third grade and married at the age of thirteen; she was fifteen years younger than her husband. After his father deserted the family, eight-year-old Ben and his brother, Curtis, were left with their mother, who had no marketable skills. Sonya worked as a domestic when such jobs were available, and she struggled with bouts of depression, for which, at one point, she had herself admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Despite her disabilities, she became the biggest factor in determining Ben's later success, which she and Ben attribute to divine intervention.

Except for two years in Boston Ben grew up in a dangerous and impoverished neighborhood in Detroit Initially he did so poorly in ...

Article

Stephen Inrig

neurosurgeon. Carson was born into relative poverty in Detroit, Michigan. When he turned eight, his parents divorced, and his mother, who had married at the age of thirteen and who had only a third grade education, struggled to raise Benjamin and his older brother Curtis on her own. This personal upheaval left Carson a troubled youth with a ferocious temper and little confidence in school. By the fifth grade, his failing grades and frequent altercations so concerned his mother that she forced her son to improve his grades and develop his reading skills. The new regime quickly created success in school, and by the sixth grade Carson's grades had dramatically improved along with his personal confidence and ambition. Buoyed by the support he found at home and at church, he devoted himself to academic excellence, and by his senior year he had secured a scholarship to Yale University.

Carson ...

Article

Togarma Rodriguez

was born on 6 July 1919 in San Pedro de Macorís to Eduardo Maturino Charles and Alicia Dunlop. At the age of 21, he married Luz del Carmen Vizcaino, his wife until his death sixty-seven years later. The couple had six children: Carmen Mireya, Nelson Eduardo, Eduardo Aníbal, Mirtha Gladys, Minerva, and Altagracia.

He completed his secondary education at Santo Domingo’s old Escuela Normal and later enrolled in the Universidad de Santo Domingo, where in 1946 he graduated with a medical degree as part of a larger cadre of talented peers who were responsible for the advancement of medical sciences in the Dominican Republic. Among them were Mariano Lebrón Saviñón, Mario Fernández Mena, Simón Hoffiz, Adolfo Pérez González, Juan Read Encarnación, Julio César García, Napoleón Perdomo, and Jaime Acosta Torres.

Charles Dunlop believed in serving his people and making his medical skills available to every Dominican irrespective of means He ...

Article

Susan Shifrin

was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, the only child of William Lafayette Chinn, a slave who had escaped to freedom at the age of eleven from the Chinn (Cheyne) plantation in Virginia, and his wife, Lula Ann Evans, who was born on a Chickahominy Indian reservation near Norfolk, Virginia.

When May was three years old her family moved to New York Her mother wishing to protect her from the distress caused by her father s alcoholism and determined that her daughter would receive a good education sent her at the age of five or six to boarding school at the Bordentown Manual Training and Industrial School Forced to leave school when she developed osteomyelitis May went to live with her mother on the estate of the Tiffanys the wealthy white family famed for its retail line of jewelry silver and china Although her mother was working for ...

Article

Donna Christian-Christensen, who was formerly known while in office as Donna Christian-Green, comes from a family of public servants. Her father, Almeric L. Christian, was a Virgin Islands chief district court judge, and her paternal grandmother, Elena L. Christian, was an educator in the Virgin Islands. Christian-Christensen graduated with a bachelor's degree from St. Mary's College in Indiana and earned a medical degree at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. After a medical career of more than twenty years, she entered politics as vice chairperson of the U.S. Virgin Islands Democratic Territorial Committee in 1980. She subsequently served on the U.S. Virgin Islands Board of Education and the U.S. Virgin Islands Status Commission. In 1996 Christian-Christensen became the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from the U.S. Virgin Islands. She was reelected in subsequent elections.