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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 ...

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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 ...

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William K. Beatty

Ulysses Grant Dailey was born in Donaldsonville, Louisiana, the son of Tony Hanna Dailey, a bartender, and Missouri Johnson, a teacher. His parents were then living in Fort Worth, Texas; Mrs. Dailey had returned to her mother's home to give birth. The Daileys visited Chicago, Illinois, several times, and Grant (as he preferred to be called) had some of his early schooling there. He was also educated in Donaldsonville, in the preparatory academy at Straight College (later Dillard University) in New Orleans, and at the Fort Worth High School. Brought up by his mother (the couple separated after a few years) in an atmosphere of books and music, Grant became a piano player.

While a student in Fort Worth, Dailey became the office boy for Ernest L. Stephens who was white a practicing physician and professor of materia medica in the medical department of ...

Article

Joann Buckley and W. Douglas Fisher

National Guard Brigadier General, regimental surgeon, and US Army Captain,was one of seven children born to Levi and Rebecca Gill Dawson in Athens, Georgia.

Dawson's father was a barber and his mother a seamstress, hardworking people who believed in the value of education. Julian and his siblings attended the local public school. He was not the only child to star in his chosen field. His brother William graduated from Fisk University in Nashville and then law school at Northwestern University. William Dawson practiced law in Chicago before ultimately serving in the US House of Representatives from 1943 until his death in 1970.

After his own graduation from Fisk about 1910, Julian graduated from Northwestern University Medical School in 1914. He then entered general practice in Illinois at Jacksonville and then Galesburg.

Dawson joined the Medical Officers Reserve Corps, US Army, in 1916 and ...

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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 ...

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Aaron Myers

Charles Richard Drew became interested in studying blood as a student at McGill University in Montréal, Québec, Canada, during the late 1920s and early 1930s. At that time, medical science had not yet determined how to preserve blood, a dilemma that became Drew's mission. Later, while interning at Presbyterian Hospital in New York, New York, and pursuing a doctorate at Columbia University, Drew discovered that blood plasma, the liquid portion of the blood without cells, can be preserved for long periods of time, unlike whole blood, which deteriorates after a few days in storage. He also found that blood plasma can be substituted for whole blood in transfusions.

In the late 1930s Drew set up an experimental blood bank at Presbyterian Hospital and wrote a thesis entitled “Banked Blood: A Study in Blood Preservation,” which earned him a doctor of science in medicine from Columbia University in 1940 ...

Article

Sandra D. Harvey

physician who pioneered the preservation of plasma, the development of the dry plasma technique, and the use of plasma in blood transfusions.

Born in Washington, D.C., to Richard Thomas Drew, a carpet-layer, and Nora Rosella Burrell Drew, a Howard University graduate, Drew grew up in a middle-class community. Known as the “center of black aristocracy,” Washington offered Drew and his family many social and educational opportunities. Drew attended the best segregated college preparatory school in the nation, Dunbar High School. In 1922 he entered Amherst College on an academic scholarship, and in 1926 he graduated a celebrated athlete and scholar.

Lack of funds delayed Drew's entry into medical school. In the interim, he coached and taught biology at Morgan College in Baltimore. In 1928 he enrolled in McGill University's medical school in Montreal; he graduated in 1933 At McGill he began his research in blood chemistry but Joseph his ...

Article

Clarence G. Williams

plastic surgeon, biomedical engineer, and educator, was born in Sumter, South Carolina, the son of Leonard Powell Lee, a physician, and Jean Maurice Langston, a visual artist. His father had grown up in rural coastal South Carolina, part of a large family in which he and all his siblings, despite the limited opportunities available, earned higher degrees and went into either teaching or medicine. His mother came from a line of successful entrepreneurs with real estate interests in and near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.

As South Carolina's public schools remained racially segregated until 1963, Lee's parents enrolled him in a private Roman Catholic “mission” elementary and middle school for blacks. In the fall of 1963 he was among the first group of blacks to enter St Jude High School in Sumter he remained there for two years before attending Bishop England High ...

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Donna M. Abruzzese

physician, surgeon, and civil rights activist, was born on the campus of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, one of five children born to Warren and Adele Logan. Warren Logan, treasurer of Tuskegee Institute, had begun working as an educator at the Institute when it was established in 1882. Logan remembered an early childhood in bucolic surroundings where he sometimes spent summer days at the side of Booker T. Washington, the founder of Tuskegee Institute.

At the age of ten Logan was sent to New York City to live in Harlem with an older sister and attend the Ethical Culture School on a scholarship. In the 1920s New York City offered blacks a broader spectrum of opportunities than was possible in Alabama. The Ethical Culture School, founded by Felix Adler in 1878 was open to children of all races and religions Adler was ...

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Elizabeth D. Schafer

aerospace surgeon, was born at Fort Washikie, Wyoming, the son of Vance Hunter Marchbanks Sr., an army cavalry captain, and Mattie (maiden name unknown). Marchbanks Jr. was influenced by the military career of his father, who was a veteran of both the Spanish-American War and World War I. A childhood operation inspired Marchbanks's passion for medicine, after which he operated on cherries in his backyard, opening them up, removing the stones, and sewing shut the incision.

Marchbanks encountered discrimination when he enrolled at the University of Arizona in 1927. Not allowed to live in the dormitories or participate in normal student activities, he lived in an off-campus boardinghouse. He ate at the railroad station restaurant, where he was expected to enter through the back door and was harassed; he often found cockroaches in his soup. Marchbanks graduated in 1931 and was accepted at the Howard University ...

Article

Edward T. Morman

surgeon, was born to Percival Conrad Maynard and Gertrude (Johnson) Maynard in Georgetown British Guyana later Guiana and at age five moved with his family to New York City Because his parents regarded him as sickly each winter they sent him to stay with relatives in Barbados where he attended private school He returned to New York permanently when he was fourteen hoping to enroll immediately in the elite Townsend Harris High School However because his prior education did not include enough American history he spent an additional year in eighth grade From Townsend Harris he entered the City College of New York CCNY at the time a highly competitive undergraduate school that male New York City residents could attend at no cost Maynard thought of becoming an engineer but was discouraged by his father who believed there was more opportunity for a bright young black man as ...

Article

Terencia Kyneata Joseph

was born in Georgetown in Colonial British Guiana (now Guyana) on 17 November 1901. Between 1906 and 1909, he immigrated with his parents Percival Conrad and Gertrude Maynard (née Johnson) to New York. A sickly child, he was sent by his parents to Barbados each winter, where he attended private schools until the age of 14, when he moved permanently to New York City and attended Townsend Harrison High School.

After high school, Maynard pursued studies in mathematics and physics at the College of the City of New York, graduating in February 1922 with a B A in mathematics and physics Maynard initially wanted to be an engineer but pursued a degree in medicine instead Although he qualified for admission to Columbia University s College of Physicians and Surgeons he was dissuaded from attending by the dean of the college He was informed that a position at ...

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Jeffrey Green

was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, on 2 December 1876 and attended to Queen’s Royal College in 1888. In 1896 he was awarded one of four Island Scholarships and went to Scotland where he studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh. While there, he was influenced by professor John Wylie, and after he achieved his primary qualifications, he returned to the island to work at the general hospital in Port of Spain.

In 1902 he commenced studies at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, and in 1903 completed his M D at Edinburgh with a thesis on glaucoma McShine established his medical practice in Port of Spain and volunteered to work as an eye surgeon at the hospital two days each week He became active in medical social matters including tuberculosis often regarded as a poor person s illness although it affected every level of society Poverty and ...

Article

Robert Fikes

surgeon and medical educator, was born Claude Harold Organ Jr. in Marshall, Texas, the second of three children born to Claude Harold Organ Sr., a postal worker, and Ottolena Pemberton, a schoolteacher. At age sixteen Claude Jr. graduated as valedictorian from Terrell High School in Denison, Texas, and followed his sister to Xavier University, a historically black Catholic school in New Orleans, from which he graduated cum laude in 1948.

Inspired by the achievements of the celebrated physician-inventor Charles Richard Drew and encouraged by two maternal uncles Organ chose to study medicine He was not allowed to enroll at the University of Texas because of his race His application to Creighton University in Omaha Nebraska however was accepted and he became only the second African American to be admitted into its medical school A focused hard driven student with a gift for public speaking Organ ...

Article

Ernest Cole

Gambian writer and medical practitioner, was born Lenrie Wilfred Leopold Peters in Bathurst, now Banjul, on 1 September 1932 He was the third child and first son of Lenrie and Kezia Peters His two older siblings are Bijou Peters Bidwell and Florence Peters Mahoney Lenrie was followed by two other children his younger sister Ruby Peters and brother Dennis Alaba Peters The family history of the Peterses goes beyond the borders of the Gambia As descendants of liberated Africans he could trace his family history to Sierra Leone and the Yoruba culture in Nigeria In his unpublished eulogy for Lenrie Peters Tijan M Sallah traces the Peterses ancestry to the Maxwells who were the first African graduates of Oxford University He adds that T he Maxwells were by all tests Afro Victorians and therefore among Africa s early westernized elites The elder Maxwell was a Sierra Leonean of Yoruba ...

Article

Lloyd Ackert

pioneering cardiovascular surgeon, was born in Lake Providence, Louisiana. In 1912, to avoid the frequent flooding of their river town home, his parents, William Maceo Thomas and Mary Eaton, moved their family to higher ground in Nashville, Tennessee. William, a carpenter and contractor, and Mary, a seamstress, found plenty of work in the prosperous capital, and they were soon able to buy a plot of land and build a house.

Vivien, the youngest of four children, took advantage of Nashville's reputation as an educational center. There was an excellent public school system as well as several institutions of higher education—including one of only two medical schools in the nation that admitted qualified African Americans. He graduated from high school in 1929 As important to his education as the standard curriculum of languages mathematics history and the sciences was the training he received in carpentry from his ...

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Deborah Lois Taylor

transplant surgeon and associate professor of surgery, was born Miguel Samuel West, the second of seven children to Daisy and Joseph West in Chicago, Illinois. His mother was a social worker, and his father worked as an electrical engineer. His parents separated leaving him to be raised by his hardworking, determined mother. The West children drew inspiration from their mother's work ethic and also from the expectations of their paternal grandmother, who was a teacher. Born in 1913 West s grandmother retained the pins school transcripts and certificates belonging to their ancestors who had graduated from schools in the South during the 1860s West grew up believing that There is no reason that we West and his siblings can t go to school Our ancestors went to school during slavery exclaimed West in an interview Miguel West s wife Sandra whom he had known since he was eight ...

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Robert C. Hayden

Louis Tompkins Wright was born in La Grange, Georgia, the son of Ceah Ketcham Wright, a physician and clergyman, and Lula Tompkins. After his father's death in 1895, his mother married William Fletcher Penn, a physician who was the first African American to graduate from Yale University Medical School. Raised and educated in Atlanta, Wright received his elementary, secondary, and college education at Clark University in Atlanta, graduating in 1911 as valedictorian of his class. His stepfather was one of the guiding influences that led to his choice of medicine as a career.

Wright graduated from Harvard Medical School, cum laude and fourth in his class, in 1915 While in medical school he exhibited his willingness to take a strong stand against racial injustice when he successfully opposed a hospital policy that would have barred him but not his white classmates from the practicum ...