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Mary Krane Derr

neuropsychiatrist specializing in the biological basis of mental disorders, was born in Bridgetown, Barbados, to Prince Barker and Brunetta (Watson) Barker. As a young teen he immigrated to New York City on the ship Guiana, arriving on 11 September 1911. His mother, who immigrated to New York in 1912, was at the time of the 1920 U.S. Census a fifty‐year‐old widow and private duty laundry worker.

Prince Patanilla Barker graduated from the Bronx's DeWitt Clinton High School in 1915 and earned his B.A. from the City College of New York in 1918. After one year at Cornell University Medical College, Barker transferred to Howard University in Washington, D.C., earning his M.D. in 1923. That year he wed Helen L. Furlonge (3 May 1892–19 February 1978 an immigrant from Montserrat Barker interned at Freedmen s Hospital Washington D C and conducted further postgraduate work ...

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Pamela C. Edwards

doctor of ophthalmology, inventor, medical researcher, and advocate for social equity in health care, was born in Harlem, New York, the daughter of Rupert and Gladys Bath. A one-time merchant marine and global traveler, her father emigrated from Trinidad, taking a position as the first black motorman for the New York City subways, and her mother, a descendant of African slaves and Cherokee Indians, Bath tells her biographers, “was a housewife who worked as a domestic after we entered middle school. … She scrubbed floors so I could go to medical school” (Davidson). A brilliant student, Bath attended New York's Charles Evans Hughes High School and in 1959 was selected for a National Science Foundation summer program at Yeshiva University. Working on a cancer research team, Bath demonstrated the future potential of her work in science and medicine and was recognized as one of Mademoiselle magazine s Merit Award ...

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Jennifer Jensen Wallach

physician and U.S. surgeon general from 1993 to 1994. Born in rural Arkansas to sharecropper parents, Minnie Lee Jones received a scholarship to attend Philander Smith College in Little Rock at the age of fifteen. While in college she added “Joycelyn” to her name and ultimately used only that. After receiving a degree in biology in 1952, she worked briefly in a Veterans Administration hospital and then in 1953 enlisted in the U.S. Army, where she received training as a physical therapist.

After leaving the army in 1956, Jones attended the University of Arkansas Medical School (UAMS) and received her MD in 1960. Also in 1960 she married Oliver Elders, with whom she had two sons. In 1967 she earned a master of science degree in biochemistry and also joined the faculty of the UAMS in 1967, becoming a full professor in 1976 ...

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Joycelyn Elders was born Minnie Joycelyn Jones in Schaal, a poor, remote farming village of southwestern Arkansas. Her parents, Haller and Curtis Jones, were sharecroppers, and all eight of their children—Joycelyn was the oldest—worked with them in the cotton fields. The family shared a three-room cabin with no electricity, and the children walked several miles to attend an all-black school. At the age of fifteen, Elders received a scholarship to Little Rock's Philander Smith College, also a school for blacks. There, she met a doctor for the first time in her life and Edith Jones, the first black woman to attend the University of Arkansas Medical School (UAMS). Elders later credited these experiences with inspiring her to become a doctor.

Elders received a bachelor's degree in 1952 and spent the better part of the next two decades advancing in the medical profession First she served in the ...

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Peter Fraser

Eugenicist and statistician. A cousin of Charles Darwin, Galton's interests in statistics (he founded the science of biostatistics) and genetics led him to the idea that selective breeding to improve the human race would lead to the development of ‘a galaxy of genius’. He first set out these thoughts in an article published in 1865 but at the same time demonstrated that his views on the differences between ‘races’ was conventional: to him Africans were lazy, stupid, and cruel. The basic theory that underlay his political eugenics programme was that, heredity being more important than environment, selective breeding was the only way to improve humanity.

His lasting legacies were his use of statistics and his research into heredity but he is best known for his eugenics programme Though his own interpretation of eugenics tended to be fairly benign focusing on research into hereditary disease or supporting the intelligent ...

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Courtney L. Young

astronaut and educator. Mae Jemison is best known as the first African American woman in space, but this simple statement does not speak adequately to the greatness of her attributes and skills. Born in 1956 in Decatur, Alabama, Jemison, with her mother, her father, and two older siblings, moved to Chicago in 1959. Jemison was deeply interested in science and nature. She cultivated that interest independently by reading evolutionary theory and astronomy, as well as in the classroom by taking classes in biology, chemistry, and physics. An honors student, Jemison graduated from Morgan Park High School in 1973. That fall she attended Stanford University on a National Achievements Scholarship. She earned both her BS in chemical engineering and a second bachelor's degree in Afro-American studies in 1977. Jemison then went to Cornell University Medical School, where she earned her MD in 1981 She completed her ...

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The daughter of Charlie and Dorothy Jemison, a maintenance supervisor and schoolteacher in Decatur, Alabama, Mae Carol Jemison was raised in Chicago, Illinois. Graduating from Morgan Park High School in 1973 at the age of sixteen, she entered Stanford University on a National Achievement Scholarship. Jemison graduated in 1977 with two concurrent bachelor's degrees, in chemical engineering and African/Afro-American studies. She then entered Cornell Medical School, graduating in 1981 and interning in Los Angeles, California.

Jemison joined the Peace Corps in January 1983 and worked as a medical officer in West Africa through July 1985. In 1987 she was accepted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as an astronaut candidate, one of fifteen who were accepted from among 2,000 applicants. She completed a one-year training and evaluation program in August 1988 and became a science mission specialist helping prepare the space shuttles for ...

Article

Bridget Brereton

physician and pharmacologist, was born in Cocoye Village, Trinidad, to Lewis Albert Maloney, a building contractor and grocery chain operator, and Estelle Evetta (Bonas) Maloney, a needlepoint teacher to young women. Maloney has the distinction of being the first African American professor of pharmacology in the nation and the second person of African descent to earn both a medical degree and a doctorate of philosophy in the United States.

Arnold began his career planning to become a druggist in Trinidad. He studied at Naparima College in Trinidad, a school affiliated with Cambridge University in England, where he received the Bachelor of Arts degree in 1909 Maloney had expectations of becoming a druggist in Trinadad however after receiving an unexpected letter from his uncle suggesting greater opportunities existed in the United States he migrated to New York to study medicine During this same year while attending Lincoln ...

Article

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

Kenneth R. Manning

educator and anatomist, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Lewis Bradner McKinney, an employee of the U.S. Printing Office, and Blanche Elaine Hunt. McKinney attended Dunbar High School, the all-black grammar school on M Street in Washington. Dunbar's faculty, composed of highly motivated African American scholars, inspired generations of black youth to strive for academic excellence. McKinney himself recalled the atmosphere of “hopeful purpose and tremendous encouragement” that pervaded the school.

After graduating in 1917, McKinney enrolled at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Unlike many other white colleges at the time, Bates admitted African American students. Some of McKinney's Dunbar teachers were Bates graduates; Benjamin E. Mays later the president of Morehouse College in Atlanta was a year ahead of McKinney at Bates and other blacks were to follow Nevertheless McKinney found race to be an issue in at least one Bates program ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

slave and medical pioneer, was born in the late seventeenth century, probably in Africa, although the precise date and place of his birth are unknown. He first appears in the historical record in the diary of Cotton Mather, a prominent New England theologian and minister of Boston's Old North Church. The Reverend Mather notes in a diary entry for 13 December 1706 that members of his congregation purchased for him “a very likely Slave; a young Man who is a Negro of a promising aspect of temper” (Mather, vol. 1, 579). Mather named him Onesimus, after a biblical slave who escaped from his master, an early Christian named Philemon.

This biblical Onesimus fled from his home in Colossae (in present-day Turkey) to the apostle Paul who was imprisoned in nearby Ephesus Paul converted Onesimus to Christianity and sent him back to Philemon with a letter which ...

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Charles Withers

Scottish physician, botanist, and explorer, was the first European to return safely having observed the west–east course of the River Niger. His significance stems from this geographical accomplishment, from the much reprinted book of his first expedition, Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa, first published in 1799, and from his “heroic” failure and death in 1806, in circumstances that are still unclear, on a further Niger expedition. His second posthumously published work, published in 1815, and drawn from Park’s surviving papers and reports, began the process of Park’s biographical commemoration.

Park was born near Selkirk in Scotland on or about 11 September 1771, the seventh of thirteen children. Park was educated at home, at Selkirk Grammar School, and, from 1789, in the University of Edinburgh, where he studied medicine. In November of 1792 Park was introduced to Sir Joseph Banks by his brother ...

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Stephen Wagley

South African medical researcher and Nobel Prize winner active in the United States, was born in Pretoria, Transvaal (South African Republic, later South Africa), on 30 January 1899, the son of Arnold Theiler, a veterinarian, and Emma Jegge.

Theiler studied at Rhodes University College, Grahamstown, before entering the two-year premedical program at the University of Cape Town; he graduated in 1918. He left for London in 1919 and underwent medical training at Saint Thomas’ Hospital, University of London, receiving a diploma of tropical medicine and hygiene in 1922; he was denied the MD because the university did not recognize his studies at Cape Town. He never received an academic degree.

While taking a course at the London School of Tropical Medicine, he met Oscar Teague of Harvard University, who offered him a position there. Theiler moved to the Harvard University School of Tropical Medicine in 1922 where ...

Article

Joann Buckley

then part of the Danish Virgin Islands, to William Wilson and Charlotte Petersen. His mother died when he was only five years old. He was the last of eight children and was raised by his older sister Alice, a dressmaker. His early education was at Danish schools in Frederiksted, St. Croix. In 1905 he emigrated to the United States and lived with older siblings in the New York area. He was one of four black graduates of Jersey City High School in 1910. He had the highest grade point average in his class—93.84 percent.

In 1910 Wilson was accepted into a special program that enabled students to complete their A.B. at Columbia College in New York City and medical degrees at Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in six years. After graduating in 1916 he obtained a one year internship at Freedman s Hospital in Washington DC When ...