- Elizabeth Blackwell – In 1849, she became the first female to earn an MD Degree. She struggled to find work, but in 1957 she founded the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children to serve the poor.
- Mary Putnam Jacobi – She earned her MD in 1864, and her most outstanding contribution was in menstruation. In response to a book by a Harvard professor that argued exertion — including study — during menstruation was dangerous, Jacobi laid out an incisive counterargument proving the stability of women’s strength throughout their cycle. Her paper — brimming with detailed facts, charts, and numbers — won Harvard’s prestigious Boylston Prize and was a powerful tool in women’s fight for better education.
- Susan LaFlesche Picotte – As a child, she witnessed a Native American woman die because the white male doctor refused to treat her. She became the first Native American woman to earn a medical degree in the United States.
- Virgina Apgar – In 1933 she received her MD degree, and to this day, new parents wait anxiously after giving birth to hear their child’s APGAR score. Apgar went on to study the effects of anesthesia, labor, and delivery on a newborn’s health, and she is said to have created her tremendously influential checklist in response to a question from a student. Before the Apgar score, providers had little guidance on assessing and treating infants in their first hours, often losing babies who could have been saved.
- Patricia Goldman-Rakic, PhD – Goldman-Rakic, who received her PhD from UCLA in 1963, achieved unprecedented insight into the brain’s frontal lobes. Working at a time when the prefrontal cortex was deemed too complex to research in detail, she mapped the region and shed light on such crucial functions as cognition, planning, and working memory. Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia — scientists’ understanding of these conditions and many more are founded on the groundbreaking research of Patricia Goldman-Rakic.
In March, and all year long, we thank these and all Women for all of their contributions